Friday, July 31, 2015

July 31: The good part is.... doesn't take long read a newspaper of the Irving press.

The headline this time is, though, a real one. "Moncton ExxonMobil jobs at risk" And they are. ExxonMobil is moving some, perhaps most, maybe all of the jobs at its world call centre to India.  Gee! But haven't we been told that unregulated capitalism creates wealth for all of us?

It doesn't, of course. It never  has. And it never will. ExxonMobil is moving because having a call centre in India is cheaper. Result? More profit for ExxonMobil. Fewer jobs for us. That sums up the meaning of the British Empire, the Spanish Empire,  the French Empire, the Dutch empire, and the American Empire. Everywhere they have gone they have created death, destruction, poverty, starvation... Take a look at Congo which has been controlled by unregulated capitalism for almost a hundred and fifty years. Look at most of the rest of Africa. Look at Central America. At Haiti.

Unregulated capitalism does not create wealth for us. It never has. It creates
wealth only for unregulated capitalists. That is all it is designed to do. Even in the days of empire, the common folk got very little of the loot. Almost all of it went to the very rich.

Contrary to myth, large numbers of Canadians up to the Second World War lived in poverty. That''s why our larger cities still have some pretty dreadful districts, designed for the poor over a century ago.  Our years of prosperity didn't come from corporation;;  They came from governments controls on business, and they came from  unions. It was unions, not capitalists like Henry Ford, that forced better pay and benefits from corporate exploiters. But Reagan and Thatcher and the despicable Brian Mulroney soon fixed that with deals like free trade - and like the China trade deal that Harper has shaped  to please his corporate owners.

With free trade, they can now, like Exxon-Mobil, get cheaper labour abroad - and spread poverty and destruction abroad just like they did with Latin American and Africa. And that's the corporation answer to the problem of the wage gap - make it bigger. In our time they've been doing it for over thirty years now. The rich are getting a lot richer - and at our expense. That's true in both Canada and the U.S. - though news media in both countries avoid the subject.

Can we reverse this? Some countries have made steps in that direction. The Scandinavian countries and Germany and Switzerland have left us North Americans a century behind them. All have far, far better medicare plans that Canada does - plans that include medication, glasses, hearing aids and more.  Some can afford excellent education systems that are free all the way through universities.
And, far from attacking unions, Germany includes unions on corporation  boards of directors to make up half of the boards. And they include workers at all levels. And German business is doing very well, indeed.

Can it be done here----peacefully?  I don't know. That something I'll save for tomorrow's blog.

Then there's a story that's a warning that a ban on fracking could raise our natural gas prices. Well, of course that's an important, front-page story. The Irving press never has a story critical of fracking. Never, ever, ever. But this story comes from The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council. And we can trust it because its advertised itself as an 'Independent Think Tank". And the Board of Directors - oh - it is to die. It is entirely composed of ordinary people just like you and me who happen to be corporation executives. So we can be sure they only want what's best for us.

 A4 has the fast-breaking story that scooters are still popular. That important story takes up much of the page.

Then there's a heart-warming story of how a Moncton firm called TRC Hydraulics, like all capitalist enterprises a company owned by entrepreneurs who risk their own money to make us rich, has just been given a gift from Ottawa of over $650,000 dollars of our tax money. Way to take risks, baby!

Oh, don't miss the ad for the Irving Memorial Chapel. Yet again, it has 'special' music. I'm not sure what 'special' music is. With luck, it might be the minister farting tunes from the hit parade of hymns.

The editorial is a confused one on a topic few will care about. Almost unintelligible, it seems to start on one side, switch to the other, then conclude that something must be done. Somebody should have put a cold pack on the editor writer's head, and sent him home.

Norbert has a column on the lack of ethics of the porn industry. Well, yeah. But what we could use is a column of the lack ethics on the part of our corporation bosses who do more damage to us, much more, than the porn industry does.

In Commentary, Dale Hobson has a nice column about our hospitals. And that's, well, nice. But aren't there more urgent issues to deal with? How did Justin Bourgue get a gun? How come the police had no record of it? How come Irving is paying hush money to Lac Megantic? What happened to the Oland murder mystery? Who, exactly, is behind the push for a hundred million dollar hockey rink? How come we can afford that, but not afford to feed the hungry or house the homeless? Or even to maintain our school system on a   level higher than eighteenth or nineteenth for the industrialized world? Why doesn't somebody on this paper tell us about the poverty , misery, and death that our mining share holders are imposing in Latin American and Congo? And maybe somebody could explain why our pilots are killing people in Syria, and why we have soldiers in Ukraine.

Justin Ryan's column has a point, I'm sure. But I'm damned if I know what it is.

Alec Bruce's column seems to be - well - I don't know.....It's about capitalists, but uses both capitalist and entrepreneur in a way to suggest that the two words have different meanings.

He seems to worry that capitalists (or entrepreneurs) are not as prominent in our political parties as they used  to be.  But, hey, what do I know? I'm only a Canadian historian.

Entrepreneurs (or capitalists - whatever) have always been the major figures behind the Liberals and the Conservatives.However, an entrepreneur prime minister is not common. But that's because entrepreneurs (or capitalists) hire flunkies for that - Like John A Macdonald. For a time,  he was both prime minister of Canada and CEO of Manufacturer's Life  - and saw no conflict of interest at all. Charles Tupper was briefly prime minister who liked girls. (He was known as the Cumberland Ram.)  And he was a sort of entrepreneur as a doctor. But he seldom practiced that trade. He made his money by accepting bribes from real capitalists.

I really don't see the point of Bruce's commentary. Nor do I see why we should lust after having more capitalists (or entrepreneurs)  in political office. Following his logic, does Bruce really consider a Donald Trump to be a great advance for American democracy?

Section A is dreadfully limp stuff.
Section B is worse.

B1 has a story about the bargaining for the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership. It leaves us as ignorant about that deal as we always have been. It dresses up protection of Canada's dairy industry as a major point. Actually, the major point is one Canada has already agreed to but isn't talking bout - the rapid destruction of our environment and the loss of political control of our own country. It's our turn to be Central America.

I was not pleased, on the same page, with Tom Mulcair saying nice things about Energy East. The biggest threat facing the whole world is climate change. Some day, we are going to have to deal with reality. And schemes like Energy East put off facing that reality until it's too late.  Climate change is either happening or it isn't. If it isn't, then we should see a column in this paper saying it isn't, and explaining the confusion. If it is happening, then we CANNOT allow any develpment, not any, of the fossil fuel industry. It's one or the other.

Most of Section B is just trivial. For example, B6 tells us that a man attacked a Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem. It also tells us the young man who shot people in a Colorado movie theatre used to be a happy boy.

That's it for a whole page.

The only story of note in on B7 "Turkey Military onslaught against Kurds raises anger". Too bad it doesn't really tell much. So here's a bit more.

The Kurds are a nation without a country. Most live in Turkey and Iraq and Syria - though some Kurd regions in Iraq have some independence. They want their own country. That would require land.

The U.S. has been supporting the Kurds because they have been the most effective fighters in the war against ISIS.  (It also lists some of them as terrorist but, hey, who isn't a terrorist these days?)

Turkey is attacking Kurds a) because it is determined not to allow them any independence and b) they could become a political force in Turkey. There's nothing sentimental about this.

The U.S. is letting Turkey kill the Kurds because it needs Turkey more than it needs the Kurds.

Much of the mess was created in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the western powers built new countries and destroyed old ones simply by drawing new maps so each could get a split of  the loot. Now, the U.S. is doing it again.

Oh, they do  have a story about the Canadian journalist in Eqypt who was arrested as a foreign agent in a trial that the whole world recognized as a farce. Every country, including Canada and the U.S., has recognized it was a farce - but the journalist still faces death or long imprisonment. It looks very much as though the journalist was arrested for telling the truth. The government of Egypt is a dictatorship run by the army.

Why is it a dictatorship?

Well, Egypt did have a democratically elected government. But the U.S. didn't like it. So it set up the Egyptian army to take over. Well, reasonable enough. The U.S. supports democracy all over the world. But it's got to be a democracy just like the U.S. - a democracy owned by the rich.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July 30: The children? Who cares?

It's embarrassing  to see the front page headline on the Times and Transcript. It seems there's a huge fight over whether children have the right to travel on unilinigual school buses. And, in the story, nobody mentioned the only question that counts. How will bilingual buses affect the children? Nobody mentioned it -  including the Times and Transcript.

If the constitution permitted us to roll them to school with logs, would it be okay to do that? Or, perhaps, the constitution will permit us to tape the mouths of each language group on alternate days.

Why are we fighting this as a legal issue? This is about children, living humans. Wouldn't it make sense to discuss this in terms of the needs of children? And, all you anglo rights people, blow the smoke off your Colts, and put them back in their holsters. I went to school from grades 9 to 11 on public transit which, in my end of Montreal was over 90% French. Amazing as it may seem, I grew up still speaking English as my first language - with the cultural advantage of being able to swear in both, official languages. Isti.
(Not sure if that's used among Acadians.)

The other big and fast-breaking story on page 1 is that ridinig a motorcycle is quite safe if one has proper training.

On A3, there's a big, big story about a man who pleaded guilty to child porn charges. A paragraph would have been adequate.  And a local contractor has been fined $2,000 for tax evasion. (No. His name isn't Irving. Mr. Irving would never evade taxes. In fact, we could write a good tax jingle about this, urging people to pay up - "Don't waste your cash in saving.  Pay the tax for Mr. Irving")

Also on A3, the Moncton food back and soup kitchen are closing for holidays. That means many people, including children, have no food at all. There is something very wrong about a society that allows its people to starve - while giving away whole forests to an Irving, and a hundred million dollar hockey rink to another Irving. And if an Irving wanted a hot dog, Mr. Gallant would give him a million dollar forgivable loan to get a really good one.

I admire the volunteers who raised money to feed the hungry. But, in a civilized society, this should not be up to volunteers.

The only  page worth reading is A6, a full page ad by the Public Service Alliance of Canada attacking Harper. Gee, an editor must have noticed these ads. So how come we don't get any news stories on what Harper is doing to cause these ads?
The editorial writer has his knickers in a twist because the provincial government is diverting money from its 'Environmental Trust Fund to other purposes, and making up the loss by charging higher fees for recycling bottles and TV sets.

Well, sure, the government is lying and cheating on this. But it does bigger lying and cheating than that. Where's the story on giving away our forests? On allowing tax cheating for the very rich? On gifts to private companies? Why is Irving giving money to Lac Megantic as compensation? What did he do that requires compensation?

Norbert claims too many of our politicians pander to get the vote. Some certainly do. And it goes back to 1867 and before.  And whose fault is that?

It's the Canadian people. They buy into the pandering every time.  Harper will get lots of votes out of giving us back some of our own money in the child tax credit. Pandering to the voters works. That's why Tommy Douglas was never prime minister of Canada. And the news media add to that with lies and propaganda, almost always favouring the Liberals and Conservatives.

Where has the Irving press been on the nature of the free trade deals that Harper is pushing through.
They effectively destroy democracy, and our control of our own country. Where is your column on that, Norbert? Where is your column on our failure to tax the rich?

Kept ignorant of what is needed in Canada,, voters are easy prey for parties that pander to single and often unimportant issues. The answer is not to change our political system - because that won't have any effect. There are, however, two answers that might help.

1. Encourage people to vote for the basic principles of a party - not for pandering gimmicks.
2. Educate people to know what the major issues are. That's a job for the news media.
3. Tell the the truth.

Rod Allen takes on an important issue - and I can quite agree with his conclusion. It has to do with the lobster fishery, and the quarrel over minimum size for a trapped lobster. Unfortunately, it's obvious he has done no research on it, and so fills his column with folksy but irrelevant anecdotes. And so he takes a serious issue, and makes it trivial.

The guest column is, alas, by the premier of New Brunswick. It's the usual pitch for the oil pipeline and energy (oil) development. And it's okay because the premiers have developed a plan which is foolproof to protect the environment. (And the five million litre oil spill out west? Hey. It happens. Let's move on.)

This is a shallow column written, I suspect, by some party hack.  It's simple-minded, but its simple-mindedness is presented with a writing skill I doubt that the premier has. Count on Gallant. He knows who runs the province - and he's going to go ahead no matter what.

That brings to mind the day I stood on a road not far from Moncton to see the riot police breaking up a crowd of protestors, mostly native, who didn't want fracking on their land. There was nothing new about the riot police. I've seen them many, many times. They were just doing their job.

Then there was the line of men behind them - in camouflage outfits, carrying combat rifles. These were not just police doing their jobs. These were  like the forces that have been developed in the U.S. They were more military than police. And these militarized police have not been trained to 'maintain the right'. They have been trained, like the army, to fight the enemy. And the enemy is us.  Americans have been learning that in a big way.

Our government is the corporations. This new branch of the RCMP are not really police at all. They are the army of the corporations. Unfortunately, that has also happened to the regular RCMP intelligence service. It now (and for some decades) spies on people that corporations don't like - not
 because they have broken any laws, but because they are critical of corporations.

If Alward is the one who ordered that deployment against a demonstration, it was one hell of a dangerous decision, and possibly a criminal one. (Yes. I know a couple people in the crowd had guns. Firing automatic rifles into a crowd because a few might have guns is not a good idea.)

We are approaching a Canada in which I would be ashamed not to have my name on some list for investigation. (Maybe we're already there.)

Alec Bruce has a very interesting column about the permanent legacy of Stephen Harper in converting the justice system into a Conservative enclave. He does it gently. But the message is there.
The Canada&World section does a good job of ignoring both Canada and the world.

The most bizarre story is the one in which a provincial cabinet minister in New Brunswick issued an angry warning to Thomas Mulcair not to spread fear-Mongering over a Miramichi mine that is in trouble. I couldn't understand what Mulcair had said that was fear-mongering. It took me a second reading to realize that Mulcair hasn't said anything about it.

So why do we have a long quotation from a provincial government minister attacking Mulcair for something he never said? I see two possibilities. 1.The news editor has no judgement at all. (In fact, that's already been proven many times. 2. The intention is to make Mulcair look irresponsible. (That's a strong possiblity, too. It's often enough happened in the Irving press.)

B3 has a big story about a U.S. police officer (working as a campus policeman for a university)  has been charged in the murder of a driver. The police officer stopped him because he had no front, licence plate. (Why on earth did a campus police officer carry a gun? And why was  he enforcing a state law?)

Oh. The police officer was white. The driver was black.

Still - why is this story given half a page in a news section that has only five pages to cover the whole world? And how does this have any information vital to Canadian readers? This is typical of the random, possibly ignorant, possibly lazy choice of Irving press editors.

A bigger story might be the one on  how U.S. police officers routinely shoot over a hundred people a month.

There's really nothing in the Canada and World section that tells us much about Canada or the world.

The most important story is only half a column on B4, and it gives little sense of why it's important.
The story is that this world now has over 7 billion people and, by the end of this century, it will be over 11 billion. That's not really good news.

We are not producing enough food now. Long before the end of the century, pollution, climate change, cutting of forests, overfishing will mean we'll have a whole lot less. Will the population really go to over 11 billion? I doubt it very much. Starvation will take care of that problem - not to mention thirst as our climate changes, and as our waterways become even greater carriers of industrial and agricultural pollution.

There's also a concern about Europe and North America developing a high proportion of their people to live over 60. But don't worry about that. The current western drive to destroy medicare and replace it with private for profit schemes will take care of people who live too long.

And don't worry about the pollution from refineries in St. John.  Rising water levels as a result of climate change will take care of that.

What's interesting about this story is what it doesn't say about long term planning to deal with any of this. That's because there is none. Capitalism doesn't work on long term planning. The only goal is the next quarterly report. And the only motive is greed.

Looking a little bit further than your average capitalist, and only a little bit, I can see protesters who are concerned about the future facing special RCMP officers in camouflage and carrying combat rifles. If you doubt it, read premier Gallant's Commentary on A 11.
                                                                                                                                                     An interesting site for New Brunswickers is Upriver Environment Watch (recently renamed Kent County Environment Watch). This is notable for some very intelligent posts.  Here is a sample:

Charles Theriault
July 29 at 9:17pm
Miramichi and Edmunston are getting new nursing homes to replace outdated buildings creating squalid living conditions. The one in Edmunston is a publicly constructed and operated endeavor. The 200+ staff will maintain seniority, benefits, salary and pensions. The one in the Miramichi is a P3. which means it is a privately funded and operated for profit endeavor. All former 200+ staff will be fired and not all rehired.
They are expecting loss of seniority, less or no benefits. reduced salaries and loss of pensions.
That is the way of P3's. Why should we accept less in the Miramichi River Area than they receive elsewhere in NB?
WHY? Thank you for sharing

Ah, the joys of privatizing.
This one is from an interesting site called Jewniverse. In this case, it's the story of a Jewish boy of   18 who shot a German official in 1938. That gave Hitler the excuse he needed to inflame German Christians, and send them on rampages through Jewish districts, murdering, looting and burning. It was the night called krystallnacht that set the stage for the roundup and mass murder of Jews.

That boy's face is one I am sure I shall never forget.
By Zachary Solomon
The Jewish Boy Who Shot the German Diplomat

Herschel Grynszpan
 was­­­n’t yet eighteen when, on November 7, 1938, he took 300 francs from his impoverished uncle, bought a revolver, marched into the German embassy in Paris, and shot German diplomat Ernst vom Rath five times in the abdomen.
But this was no random act of violence. Grynszpan, shy but fiercely emotional, was born in Poland, the son of a tailor. Hoping for a better life, his family had relocated to Hanover, where they remained until, in August 1938, German authorities cancelled residence permits for foreigners. The Grynszpans, along with 12,000 other Polish Jews, were deported to Poland, only to be denied entry due to a recent edict cancelling Polish citizenship for expat Jews.
Sick and tired of the way his family—and Jews the continent over—were being treated, Grynszpan fumed, growing angrier by the day. According to French police, Grynszpan “acted in the name of the 12,000 persecuted Jews.”
Immediately after Vom Rath was killed, Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels declared: It would not be surprising if the German people were so outraged at this attack by “the forces of international Jewry” that they took the law into their own hands and attacked Jewish businesses.
And thus Kristallnacht and mass arrests of German Jews began. The rest, other than Grynszpan’s fate, you already know.
To go with this, you can find a Charlie Chaplin film called "The Great Dictator". It is about Hitler, and it's a brilliant film. But the very wealthy of the U.S. (both Christians and Jews) never forgave Chaplin for it. The called him a premature anti-fascist, enlarged on it by calling him a communist - and forced  him to leave the U.S.

Finally, a light touch. I found Pravda, the Russian news service. Russia, China, Canada, the U.S. and Europe are much alike. They're all run by billionaires, and they all have heavily biased news media.
Pravda is like most North American news. It's essentially propaganda. But it's more skilfully done. It's not loaded with outright lies like US propaganda. And it's not sheer, brainless crap like the Irving press.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July 29: Well. a front page headline that is important..

Most lobster fishermen in Prince Edward Island want to continue fishing for small lobster because the small ones attract the Asian market. But one fishing harbour has joined New Brunswick fishermen in demanding a higher minimum size, allowing lobsters to live longer and produce more baby lobsters and, thus, to maintain the fishery indefinitely.

Too bad it's not a well-written story. As it is, it gives the impression that lobsters are plentiful. But it's a little more complicated than that. And the newspaper did bother to find an expert for an opinion on the subject. After all, there are credible concerns that the seas will be fished out in a generation of two. Then what?.

The minister of fisheries for PEI has refused to intervene,  saying she wants the fishermen to come to an agreement on their own. That seems a bizarre position for a  cabinet minister to take.. After all, we're not talking here about a simple, local matter. This is part of the story of a world running out of food because of massive pollution by, for example, mining companies. It's a world running out of food because of population growth.

The other big story on A1 is "Motocross racers live, breathe their sport". Who could possibly care?

And, in this day of miracles, there's another important story on B3. 'Rising sea levels speed up coastal erosion, fuel storm surges, scientists say." They  could rise as much as a metre in just twenty years. That would be enough to destroy much of the shore line, and the road and bridge system. And what's causing this? Well, it's our burning of fossil fuels for things like cars.

So will Mr. Irving fund a philanthropic campaign to get serious about the connection between oil and climate change?  Not bloody likely. If anything, he will move his house to higher ground. Bermuda, I'm afraid, would not be a good choice this time.

And will Moncton reconsider its decision to buy a new fleet of buses that few people ride? There are, after all, better and cleaner methods of moving people; and they cost less, much less, than an oversized hockey rink. And will it reconsider its practice encouraging the urban sprawl that makes travel by care essential as well as inefficient - and very damaging to the environment?

Then there's a gem on A6. It's a third of the page devoted to the unveiling of a plaque that looks like any plaque you're ever seen. It commemorates the decision to make Moncton the terminus for the old, Colonial Railway. (And why was this city, which is not on the sea, chosen as the terminus for transcontinental rail traffic? The plaque probably doesn't say. But what happened is that both Halifax and St. John wanted to be the terminus Choosing either of them over the other could have cost a lot of votes. So the feds chose Moncton  because it was half-way between them.)

A big photo shows MP Robert Goguen doing the only thing I had known him to do - hold the unveiling cloth while a city councillor watches. Just below are two more photos - of Goguen and the Councillor again. I have no idea why.

The whole story could have been told in one paragraph. This one takes nine - with the last one an eminently boring statement by Goguen full of good-sounding, but vague words like proud, strong and free.  He also says the plaque will help tourism. Damn right. I can see people coming from all over the world to look at a bronze plaque.

Apart from the lobster story, perhaps the biggest one isn't a story. It's an ad by a union. Harper is getting rid of people in the public service. Of course. Times are tough. He likes to talk about balanced budget because he knows that many voters think of a  federal budget as thought its something like a household budget. Anyway, billionaires don't need that public service. And they certainly don't intend to pay taxes for anything only us common people need. In fact, they don't intend to pay taxes at all.

Generally, though, it's a pretty brainless news section. But that's good because the purpose of Irving news is to keep us all in a stupor, ignorant of what's happening.
The editorial is about how Moncton has a lot of restaurants. Thanks. I needed to know that.

Moncton is also the unofficial Tim Horton's capital of the world. Whoopee!

This, too, is part of the 'keep 'em in a stupor policy.

Norbert has an excellent and well-deserved column on former Foreign Affairs minister, Flora Macdonald. who died recently. She had what Diefenbaker and Mulroney never had - the respect of her own party - and of the others.

And the column told me something that gave me a personal thrill. Norbert went to Queen's university just three years after I did.  I wish I'd known. I could have introduced him to a lot of socialists.

The guest commentary is one I started with caution. It's about the drug industry in Canada which, as in the rest of the world, is one of the most unethical and overpriced industries one could imagine. But the column looks  honest and knowledgeable - and well worth a read.

Brian Cormier is Brian Cormier. And I fear  he always will be.

And Alec Bruce has a column that looks as though Cormier wrote it. It's an irrelevant and pointless story about a visit to the zoo. Of five commentaries, all are about Canada, and three are about Moncton - and trivial at that. We should demand a newspaper that tells us a lot more about the world than that. This is a paper for belly button gazing. We have to stop kidding ourselves that what happens in other countries doesn't affect us. Actually, for the most part, it's doesn't even tell us anything about New Brunswick or about Moncton.
Canada&World has an important story on its first page. Public sector workers are furious that premier Alward misled them on their pension benefits, with a danger they will face cuts to the deal Alward seemed to have proposed. Premier Gallant's reply?  Tough luck. So the unions are going to court.

Can you imagine how Alward or Gallant would reply to such a request from Irving? "You want a forest, Mr. Irving? Well, we have a nice, big on for you - at a low, low special price. Will it have regulations? That's entirely up to you, Mr. Irving. Do whatever you think is best. And, remember, if you want a forgivable loan, just ask us.  Enjoy."

There's another story on B3 that's a world story, and a very important one. I guess that's why it's so short. Some very credible scholars, scientists and tech wizards say we are on the edge of being able to create whole armies, navies and airforces made up of 'killer robots."

The usual people say this will be good because it will save human lives. Sure. they'll save lives for the side that uses them But saving lives on the other side is not what armed forces do.

Critics foresee as massive arms race to build these robot killers because They're so cheap and so easy to build that almost any country could do it. Indeed. the US has already killed thousands with its drones.

One eminent scholar says these weapons should be banned - as chemical weapons are banned. But that would be a waste of energy for two reasons not mentioned in the article  1) The U.S. at least, would ignore such a ban. It's philosophy on these matters (and it's quite public) is "American Exceptionalim" - which means that the U.S. has a unique right to do anything it likes no matter what international agreements or laws might say.  2)As further proof of the uselessness of such bans, the U.S. already ignores them. It produces chemical weapons like Agent Orange - and a poison gas that it has been known to give to people like Saddam Hussein. It invades countries and kills millions without any reason acceptable under international law.

And there's a third reason. The American people often approve of wars that they should not fight - but they're not so enthusiastic about taking casualties. No American president is eager to approve of any war that threatens high, U.S. casualties. That makes drones and robots very attractive.

B4 - typical big world news story for the Irving press. "Three Ontario sisters say they were stopped by police for biking topless." They have made a big case that they were doing it to benefit all women. Maybe. But, frankly, the right for women to go topless in Ontario would be rather lower on my scale than helping the tens of millions of women who are being starved, bombed to death, and living in horror. Obviously, the Irving press sees these things the other way around. That's what we get a story about three Ontario girls instead of the helpless and hopeless ones we are helping to kill.

There's a story about Cosby. There's a story about Trump.

There's no mention of the refugee crisis at Calais, France, where thousands of refugees are desperate to get to a Britain that doesn't want them, and no mention of Israel using bombs to join the war in Syria.

There's no mention of why the U.S. is sponsoring a rebellion in Syria in the first place - and arming and paying the rebels. The only reason that we've heard is the old one that seems to be enough for all the wars that cost millions of lives and destroy whole societies - "Assad is a bad man."

Hell if that's the reason, George Bush and Obama are both real bastards. Both have killed far more people than Assad ever did. At least Assad had a  reason. He killed because he was being attacked by U.S. and British funded armies. Exactly why have Britain and the U.S. funded the rebels? Why did they attack Iraq and Afghanistan? Why did Canada join them in Afghanistan?  Why are Canadians killing Syrians?

Why did the U.S. hire the Egyptian generals to overthrow a democratically elected government? Why has the U.S. tried to impoverish and destroy Cuba for fifty years? Did Cuba threaten to invade it?

Why did we, of North America, criticize Hitler for practicing genocide when we practiced it on a much bigger scale with our native peoples? And now that we have a report on what we've done, why isn't Harper doing anything about it?

Why has Canada sent troops and ships to Ukraine? To defend democracy? There is no democracy. Ukraine has been stripped bare by western bankers, and it's now ruled by them. Even the Naziis of Ukraine are complaining about it.

Why do we hear so little about how the people of Greece are suffering? Why do we hear nothing about the whereabouts of the Greek equivalent of the Irvings, the ones whose abuse of political power caused the crisis.

Then, it would be useful to know something about the real poverty rates in Canada and the U.S. Both can be frustrating to find. According to Forbes Magazine, a magazine for people with money,  the U.S. has almost nobody living in poverty - a mere 4.5%.

The government figure is about 15%, or 34 million people. We need some real figures for this - and for unemployment - and they are very, very difficult to get. Official unemployment figures are commonly only half of the real number.

These figures are particularly striking when you note the high proportion of children living in poverty. That means those children  have very little chance, from kindergarten on, to ever get out of the poverty trap.

What are the figures for the wage gap in Canada and the U.S.? What does an Irving make in a year? What does a working class person make?

What taxes do the wealthy and their corporations pay? Good newspapers print that information.

Have you heard about the homelessness in California? A large part of the budget to care for the homeless goes to the police so they can arrest them for being homeless. And people who have no money because the drought destroyed their jobs are getting notices their water will be cut off unless they pay their water tax. They same thing is happening in Detroit where jobs were lost when automobile companies moved to cheaper countries - thanks to free trade. The government couldn't help because it spent its money bailing out the banks and the auto companies that caused the economic hardship. Now, these people are getting their water cut off, and are being turned out of their dilapidated buildings onto the street.

There are lots of important stories out there. That's what makes it so frustrating to write a blog about a newspaper chain that prints only what's mind-numbing or pleasing to the boss. Oh. And cheap.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28: Communications and destruction.

The history of the last  500 years have been largely about the history of communications. The European sailing ship was a means of communication that made it possible for Europeans to exploit the opportunities of the Americas - and the give them adequate numbers and supplies to murder much of the native population, steal their land, and destroy their societies.

It was possible for some European nations, especially the British, to do the same in, for example, India, exploiting its land and very cheap labour, even slave labour, to make huge profits for British capitalists - though very little for the British people. Over land, such a venture would have been almost impossible. But, the sea, even in the days of sailing ships, made it relatively easy.

The price, as it would prove, was the destruction of much of Indian society. This was encouraged by the British who favoured the Muslims of India to keep the general population divided. That's why the Muslim part is today the separate country of Pakistan, and nuclear bombs in each country are aimed at the other.

The steamship was a huge step forward in communications, along with the Suez Canal and, later, the Panama Canal to make it much easier and quicker to move shipping from the western world to Asia, and to do it in much larger quantities - and to move warships and armies to peoples not particularly happy to see them.

A result of that was to destroy the world's oldest civilization, China - plunge that country into a century of violence, chaos, and suffering. Through this period, the British dominated, but the U.S., after stealing much of Mexico and giving the stolen parts names like Texas and California and Nevada, annexed Hawaii (without paying much attention to the rights of native Hawaiians) to be a coaling station for American warships en route to the Philippines where they would murder large numbers of the population, and set themselves up to compete with the British for the Asian market, especially China.

With each improvement in communications, our wars got bigger. That's why one can see, in a park here in Moncton, the memorial to young men and boys of Moncton who died in two world wars and Korea. (It omits the Boer war, for some reason.) World War 1 was the first of the big wars in which steam power was crucial in making it possible to fight all over the world In world war II, communications were enhanced by much larger fleets, this time with the addition of air power, rockets, and nuclear weapons.

Five hundred years ago, it would have been almost impossible to attack distant countries and to keep armies supplied.At best. the problem of communications would have made for a long war, indeed. Today, a nuclear submarine, just offshore, could destroy whole cities in minutes. And conventional war between major powers have become impossible.  No population (especially in the U.S.) would tolerate the butcher's bill, and the war would inevitably become nuclear - with permament damage to the whole earth.

The justification for accepting nuclear weapons was the they would be a mutual deterrent, so no-one would ever use them. That's very thin argument on which to base the survival of the world.

We cannot afford such a war - no matter who starts it. That means we can't fight such a war. And that means the nuclear powers cannot afford to threaten each other with war of any sort. Obama has taken a very tough line on Ukraine, pretending to defend a democracy that never existed. The U.S. has been trying to surround China - which might make sense if it were possible for the U.S. to defeat China in a conventional war. But this is the country that couldn't defeat Vietnam or Afghanistan. It might be able to re-create the chaos that the west inflicted on China for over a century. But it would not defeat it.

In the same way, it cannot defeat the Muslim world. It can, as it has, create chaos in that world. But 15 years of experience have shown that creating chaos simply creates more 'extremiists'.

In short, it is not possible to fight such wars any more. That means we have to work out peaceful relationships. There really is no choice.

But, as in the case of climate change, our governments are not interested in doing that.

We need to have more information. We need to understand that what happens in Beijing and Baghdad and Ecuador affects us - right here in Moncton. We need information. We need open discussion of it.
Our leaders, both economic and political, obviously won't do it. Nor will most of our news media.  They constitute, for the most part, a moral and intellectual vacuum.

If we don't smarten up, there can only be one result of their moral inertia.
Sorry. I went off the point because the Irving press today had no news. - unless you really, really care that Harper is being accused of stalling on making appointment to the Senate - and you think this is a key issue for the country. I think our sending of troops to Ukraine, and fighter-bombers to  Syria is rather a bigger issue. In fact, it raises the whole question of exactly what Canadian foreign policy is about. They only way in which it has changed in two centuries has beento  switch from being a British colony to being an American one. We might also want to think of why we make ourselves hated by Latin America because a)we are obviously a U.S. puppet and b) because our capitalists with investments in Latin America are every bit as vicious and destructive as the American ones are.

In Canada&World News the front page headline is, like in section A, about Harper's failure to appoint new senators. It's too bad we have so many thieving morons in the Senate. But that's not really the biggest question facing Canada. Not even the second biggest.

Then there's a big story about a man who shouted vulgarities at a CBC reporter. Now, there is something we really need to know. (A person once, many years ago, shouted vulgarities at me. Maybe I should call the Irving press about it.)

Section B1 has a lead headline - about Harper's delaying in appointing new senators.

Then, on B3, we get a THIRD story on Harper's failure to appoint more senators.

That has to be the sloppiest and laziest editing I have ever seen. The Irving who is VP for the Irving press is reputed to have an MA in Journalism from a prestigious American university. I have seen no sign of that in the papers since he took over. In fact, they seem to have become worse.

There is a total of three world stories. One is about Obama defending his Iran deal. One is about Yemen, but has a headline that misses the point of the story. The point of the story (and even the story is weak on it) is that humanitarian aid to one of the poorest countries in the world, a country in which people are dying of starvation and lack of medical supplies, has been interrupted. The reason? One of the richest countries in the world (Saudi Arabia) has resumed a campaign of random bombing that has killed thousands of innocent people and is using bombs supplied by the good-hearted U.S.
The U.S. has, on its own, been killing these people for years. Why? What for? Nobody at the Irving press has ever asked.

The suffering is massive. And our side seems to be the major cause of it. This news is useless unless we know the cause of this savagery.

Oh, the total humanitarian aid to these desperate people is 330 million dollars. That's probably less than the U.S. sold in bombs to Saudi Arabia. And the estimated need is for 2.3 billion. But don't worry about it. I'm sure there will be a special collection at this Sunday's Irving Chapel service.

Then, the U.S. and Turkey have agreed to slice a piece off the map of Syria. What right do the U.S. and Turkey have to redraw the borders of Syria?  And the story says that the U.S. is supporting moderate rebels in the region. What the hell are moderate rebels? Who decided they're moderate? This  is propaganda, not news.
Some items weren't important enough to make the news. In the U.S., police have killed 658 people in the first six months of this year. That must be close to the highest rate of police killing in the world.  And that suggests a very sick society, and one that is dangerous to the whole world. It's made worse by long prison terms, vile conditions in the prisons, and sentences for even trivial convictions. Some of this is because many U.S. prisons are privately owned - and they want longer sentences. The government pays for it; and the prison owners make extra bucks by operating factories in the prisons, with prisoners as slave labour. So much for rehabilitation. It's no secret, too, that U.S. prisons use torture. The UN human rights commission has asked permission to inspect US prisons, but has been refused. I wonder why.

On the good side, some states, like Tennessee have loosened gun laws so ' real amuricans' can carry concealed weapons in public. That country, ably helped by capitalism, is well on the way to destroying its own society.

There's a Canadian magazine called CCPA Monitor. You might have to go to a major bookseller to find it. I've been catching up on my reading - which explains why I was looking through the April, 2055 edition. There's fascinating article in it about a book by a former Guantanamo prisoner - Mohamedou Ould Slahi. It's called Guantanamo Diary.  He was held for years, and was tortured, of course. It started in 2001 when Mr. Slahi was living in Montreal. For no clear reason, and with no evidence, the RCMP  began a  campaign of harassing him. In this, they were working in close contact with U.S. secret agents. and were sending information about him to U.S. agencies. In fact, they even lied about the 'evidence' they sent.

Then they arranged an opportunity for U.S. intelligence to arrest him, and send him to Guantanamo. (Some thirteen years later, the U.S. government decided there was no case against him, and he was released.) Through that thirteen years he experienced day after day of torture - all of it well known to Canadian authorities. In fact, RCMP intelligence was in constant contact for the whole period with the full knowledge and cooperation of the Canadian government. Canadian intelligence lied; it violated constitutional rights  We were, and are,  partners in torture.

Of course, it's okay now because we have Bill C51 which makes it quite legal to do all those things.
We, too, are a society in decay.

Below is a note that appeared on Facebook. It's important because it's a New Brunswick example of a cancer that has taken over capitalism in its distorted form that we find in Canada, the U.S., Russia, China, most of Europe. It's a cancer that has largely destroyed democracy, and will destroy us if it's not checked - soon.


My name is Charles Thériault, I am a 57 year old filmmaker living in Kedgwick, N.B. and this is the story of my fight to make things right for my family, my friends and my co-residents of this fine province.

It all started five years ago when I settled here in this french speaking Appalachian back woods community deep inside the New Brunswick Acadian forest, nestled among the finest salmon fishing rivers in the world. The Restigouche, Kedgwick and Little Main rivers attract the wealthiest of aficionados willing to shell out thousands of dollars a day just to sit in a boat for hours, along pristine waterways, tickling the waters hoping to feel that rush of adrenaline when a majestic Atlantic salmon decides to hook into the fly.

On the other hand, there is a whole other set of imagery that comes forth once the gloss of the surrounding nature fades and the stark reality of the people who inhabit this isolated area becomes all to evident. The residents of Kedgwick and surrounding small communities are all rough hewn second and third generation descendants of settlers who dragged their wives and children here hoping to carve out an existence from the then abundant forest. Tenaciously, by the sweat of their brow, they managed to build a community for themselves. Small and medium sized businesses sprouted everywhere, work was abundant and people prospered. But today the community is struggling to survive, forest workers must take on huge loans to finance machinery to get hired by the JDI owned mill.

This story is similar to almost all communities in this province. Historically, New Brunswick was forged into existence because it's forest and up until the late 1970's, it's forest was the main economic engine that drove the economies of most of its communities.. However that all changed as of 1980.

That year, the Richard Hatfield government, under the guidance of the Natural Resources Minister, Bud Bird, brought into existence the N.B. Lands and Forest Act, which basically handed over license to manage the totality of all Crown Forest, 50 % of all forest in the province to 9 pulp and paper mills and one large saw mill. They were instructed to manage the forest for the best interest of the owners of said forest. The people of New Brunswick. In other words the foxes were asked to tend to the chicken coop.

It is interesting to note that at the time, Bud Bird was owner of a large and prosperous industrial supply company (Bird Stairs Inc Held in trust while he was minister) doing business with most the the large forest industry players. A few months after the act passed, Bud Bird leaves government and becomes a director of Fraser Papers. One of the licensees of our Crown forest.

To add some fairness to the Act, it was required of industry to purchase the AAC (Annual Allowable Cut) from Private Woodlot Owners as represented by marketing boards before having access to Crown Forest timber. The price negotiated for that private wood purchase would also set the price that industry would pay the government for Crown forest. That way Crown was not competing unfairly with private woodlot owners.

Unfortunately, in 1992, premier Frank McKenna changed the act so the Forest Industry no longer had to purchase the Private woodlot owners AAC. Therefore this group immediately lost all bargaining power and the price the Industry paid dropped by 40% overnight as well as the price they paid the province for Crown forest timber.

Over the remaining twenty years, almost all small and medium sized mills shut down over the province, while industry successfully drove them bankrupt, thus eliminating competition. Private woodlot owners unable to compete with the cheap cost paid for Crown Forest timber decided to find other sources of income.

In the late 1990's early 2000 as the world market for pulp and paper collapses, several licensee's in N.B. went bankrupt and closed their mills. However, the Crown Forest licenses allotted to them are folded in with the remaining licensees. Today only four companies share the total management control of all Crown Forest. J.D. Irving, Twin Rivers, softwood Pulp used in the paper making process) AV Nackawick, AV Cell (Hardwood pulp used in the process of making rayon)

It is interesting to note that former premier Frank McKenna is today chairman of the board of Brookfield Asset Management, which owns Twin Rivers, of which Bud Bird is still a director. Also J.D. Irving is the largest holder of Crown licenses in the province.

During this period of industry upheaval and the U.S. housing market crash, the province reduced by 50% the royalties owed to the province..twice. Which means today they are paying just 25% royalties of 1990 prices.

Revenues to the province from the forestry sector are so low that the ministry can no longer afford to operate. In the 2010 the ministry generated a loss of 30 million$. How can that be? Has the management of our richest renewable resource gone so far off track that we are actually paying the industry to take our wood away? It would seem so.

Several studies over the years were commissioned searching for direction and all were told to work within the guidelines of existing management arrangement. Well at least one study in 2010 undertaken by Don Roberts, C.I.B.C Worldwide V.P. stipulated that the main problem was in fact the management regime in place. The licensee system was draining the coffers dry. He explained that if the Crown Forest was managed for its owners, (the population of N.B.) just as Acadian Timber, (formerly Fraser Papers) manages its industrial forest for the shareholders. (Frank McKenna and Brookfield Asst Management) The ministry should have reaped in 140 million $. However it operated at a loss of 30 million $. His statement was categorical. Time to change how our public forest is managed.

Three years has gone by since M. Roberts recommendations and nothing has moved to correct the situation.

Why? Why is government not correcting the situation?

I asked Bill Parenteau, history prof at U.N.B. Fredericton where he completed his doctoral thesis on the development of the pulp and paper industry in New Brunswick. His answer was simple. The Province of New Brunswick is a client state to the forest industry. At least since the 1930's. Being a client state means that industry has more control over resource policy than does the government.

His analysis was confirmed to me by Nicole Lang also history prof at U de M who did her doctoral thesis on the history of the Fraser Papers operations in New Brunswick. How troubling is that? Our succeeding governments have been unable to dictate policy regarding our resources.

A recent example of this happened in early 2012 when the minister of Natural Resources ordered that all industry players stop gathering pulpwood on Crown Forest in order to allow private woodlot owners to sell their pulpwood to industry. All industry players followed suite except for J.D. Irving which claimed they had special status with government and need not follow the ministers orders. A week later the ministerial order was reversed. How blatant a client state is that!
Being a client state to industry would certainly explain the mess that we are in.

I approached M. Robert Dick, Forest Manager at the Department of Natural Resources and he confirmed that every species of hardwood and softwood was totally allocated between the remaining licensees. No new players allowed. Like kids in a candy store the N.B. Forest Industry players have the totality of our Crown Forest to run roughshod over anyone who dares to try to compete with them in New Brunswick.

I spoke to M. Andrew Clarke, president of the N.B. Federation of Private Woodlot Owners. who remains befuddled over the fact that the government is doing nothing to remedy the fact that Crown land is used to unfairly compete with private owned woodlands. He cannot understand how the state of Maine forest industry buys wood from N.B. private woodlot owners at a fair price and the industry seems to be doing well. While here in New Brunswick ,industry needs iron clad guarantees from the province, reduced tax rates, and reduced electrical rates and fire sale priced Crown timber in order to operate in the province in New Brunswick. What is wrong with the industry business model in N.B.
Seems to me that N.B. Forest Industry dictates and the N.B. Government accommodates. Once again here is an example of the province being a client state to the forest industry.

I spoke to Stephen Wyatt, forestry prof at U de M specializing in Social Forestry and Forest Policy. He claims it is time for the forest regime to change in N.B. This province was the first to implement the Licensee management approach in Canada and all other provinces followed suite. However in the last 5 years British Columbia, Ontario and recently Québec have realized that the model did not work and have changed it to models where the industry does not manage the resource. M. Wyatt says we need to extract the Industry from managing our forest resource in N.B. and go see what other values we can develop from the forest other than just 2 by 4 and pulp. Perhaps tourism, perhaps expanded maple syrup industry.

I spoke with Tom Buckley Professor at the U.N.B. school of forestry. He explains how he and his colleagues were commissioned by the Department of Natural Resources of N.B. to conduct a public survey on the satisfaction of Crown Forest management. On the eve of the dissemination of the results, they were asked to withhold the information from the public. The information clearly indicates a total distrust of the Forest Industry to manage our Crown Forest.

I spoke with Don McCrea long time bureaucrat with D.N.R. then transferred as Deputy Minister to Transportation to spearhead the mammoth task of constructing the twined highway in N.B. He was later offered the post of Deputy Minister of Natural Resources. He turned down the position because he believed Industry would have fought him every step of the way to return the control of Crown Forest to the Ministry. He believes the 60 million $ a year the government pays industry to manage the forest, do the sylviculture work and maintain forest roads and bridges cannot be substantiated at todays prices. Yet these fixed cost have never been reviewed in the past 32 years. Only indexed with inflation. If Industry saves money on these operations it is theirs to keep. He also says that since all scaling of wood in now done in the mill yard rather then in the woods as was done previous to the act. It is impossible to prove if in fact the province and the wood workers are actually getting the right amount of payment for the wood cut.

I spoke with Jeannot Volpé, former Minister of Natural Resources and former Minister of Finance for the province of New Brunswick. He stipulates that we have to take a good long look to see if in fact we New Brunswickers are getting good value by letting industry manage our forest resource. He asks if with the billions of dollars the province has provided the industry, in royalty cuts, tax cuts, power rate cuts, subsidies, interest free forgivable loans, if in fact we have had value forrr New Brunswickers or if in fact we have simply been making sure that this industry make profit on the back of New Brunswick resource. Has it been worth it? He asks. I don’t think so! He answers bluntly. Let us go see why.

For the moment my inquiries have focused more on the financial aspects of Crown Forest mismanagement. It seems to me that people will react more if you can show how hundred of millions of dollars go missing every year from the taxpayers coffers. If we do a quick financial analysis of the situation it really comes down to the fact that we as taxpayers of New Brunswick are actually paying the industry to take the wood away.

But what of the environmental impacts that this mismanagement has caused. Can we equate the fact that wholesale clear-cutting of our forest and reduced buffer zones along the waterways is the reason that every watershed in New Brunswick have been declared compromised. Silting is choking streams and rivers, endangering fish habitat. Causing erosion and flooding.

But what of the social impacts that this mismanagement has caused. The shutting down of small communities. The indentured workers, held captive by huge loans co-signed by the likes of J.D. Irving which in turn are guaranteed by the province. When the workers machine becomes almost paid-off, Irvings demand he purchases a newer more productive machine, that way keeping the worker in a state of indebtedness.

It is said that 10% of all contractors who work for the Irvings go bankrupt every year. For sure they are not the only players in the field but they are surely the largest and carry the most clout.

In Kedgwick where I reside, there are two mills. One is owned by J.D.Irving and produces stud-wood and consumes 300,000 cubic meters of wood/year (99% from Crown forest) and creates 57 jobs An average of 5264 m3 of wood per job/year

The other mill is Groupe Savoie, they produce hardwood pallets, kitchen cabinet components, pellets and pellet logs, hardwood flooring. They consume 430,000 cubic meters/year (65 % Crown as a sub licensee) and create 465 jobs. An average of 925 m3 of wood per job/year

The answer to creating work in New Brunswick is by forcing the users of our resource to add value to the raw material. Not by pillaging what wood we have left but by adding value to what wood we have left.

Without a doubt, the single greatest impediment to my effort in raising awareness is the lack of support and recognition from mainstream media. Every published newspaper in New Brunswick with the exception of one english and one french are all owned by J.D.Irving.

The only way I can get my message out is either by internet or by gaining national media attention. The internet is working but it is a laborious process. It is going to take a groundswell of attention from the population to force our government to revamp the Crown Forest Act and give us back control over our largest renewable resource. However the size of the effort.... we will prevail!


There was so much to say. I'm sorry this went so long - and it didn't even scrape the surface. Wake up, New Brunswick. You've overslept by a hundred years.


Monday, July 27, 2015

July 27: Makes ya think, don't it?

How is it possible to fill so many pages with print - and still say nothing? The only item worth reading in Section A is on page 5. A child and youth advocate says New Brunswick, like other provinces, has far too many aboriginal children in youth care centres.  They would be far better off in their own homes, with help from professional youth workers.

I've had some experience with this issue; and he's quite right. Adoption by even the most well-meaning non-aboriginal family is often (usually) highly damaging to the child. Why do our governments continue the practice of taking them out of their homes and communities? Because our government really don't give a damn.

This is a story worth reading. It's the only one worth reading.
The editorial yet again talks about money as though that were all this city is about. It's a pep-talk, full of 'feel-good' statements that don't real,y mean much.

Norbert writes a reasonable enough column on the decline across Canada of crime for the last thirty years. Quite true. But how does he write a column on this subject without questioning why we have a federal government that has been stirring fear for years over our "vicious crime rate"?

As a result, Harper is spending money to put more people into prison for longer periods With that approach, it's amazing that the crime rate has still continued to go down. One would think that this would be the ideal time to examine other approaches to rehabilitation. I have met many, many criminals from petty thieves through armed bankrobbers to killers-for-hire. The ones I met in prison were often  in for the second or even third time. Prison does not make criminals into better people. In fact, it makes them worse. So why has Harper, with the support of bumboy  Peter MacKay been encouraging longer sentences?

And why has he made Canada a police state that spies on all Canadians who are a:middle-class or poor or b)environmentalists or c) critics of the government?.

Because it draws the moron vote - Harper's largest constituency.

Really, Norbert, what you said could have been said in a paragraph. That would have left you with space to tell the rest of the story that gives it it's full meaning.

By the way, and in fairness, Harper has been gentle with a man, it is said, who beat his father to death. But that was way over a year ago, maybe two years....  And that man has yet to spend a day in jail or even in a courtroom. Harper has said nothing. The Irving press has said nothing.

But, of course, he's not a low-class bum.  He's a very high-class bum.

Craig Babstock has a very reasonable column on the damage done by solitary confinement. He's quite right. I've seen it. It was hard to detect any rehabilitation process in the man I saw sitting on the floor of his empty cell eating  his own fesces.

Steve Malloy has an interesting piece arguing that we should vote for the best candidate, not for the party. I don't agree with him - but it's a good column, and well-argued.

I have always voted CCF or NDP -except - I once voted for Warren Allmand, Solicitor-General in the Trudeau government. I voted for him because he was a friend, very intelligent, compassionate, committed to social causes, honest - and very tough as I learned when I was questioned by a panel he was on. I have never regretted voting for him. But ....

A single MP, no matter how fine his qualities, is not enough when he is surrounded by a party that is corrupt or serves only the rich. A vote for any Conservative is a vote to put Stephen Harper in power; a vote for any Liberal is a vote to put Justin Trudeau into power. I think that either of those would be a disaster for Canada - no matter how "good" a candidate Moncton might have.

The party is more important. Learn the 'philosophy' of the party - how it views society, what it's general direction is. Those, not charm or charisma or even good intentions, are what count.

Alec Bruce has a long and boring column. In those respects, it closely resembled the usual editorial column. Then, I came to the punch line. The whole thing is really a pitch for building the events centre/hockey rink.

Baby fwowed up.
So I was looking forward to see what important stories the Irving news editors decided we just had to read.

Page B1 had two stories that were real stories. One announced the death of Flora MacDonald who had been Canada's first female external affairs minister. She was widely - and deservedly - respected.

There's also an important one on the finances of today's political parties. The Conservatives are loaded with cash, much more than all the other parties put together. (Guess why the Harper Conservatives have so much money. Also ask Harper if he knows a Mr. Irving.) That means Harper can easily afford a long campaign. The other parties can't. (They don't know the Irvings and other such Canadians nearly as well as Harper does.) That means that Harper has a huge edge in the campaign.

But the longest story in the section is about the man in Lafayette who shot up a movie theatre, then killed himself. I have no doubt this is a big story in Lafayette. But it's really not something that affects us, and it gives no information we need. This is something like those brainless tabloids at the supermarket checkout with headlines like 'Camilla hits Queen with loaf of French bread' or 'Tony and Kit' cheating on other with same man.' (whoever Tony and Kit are.)

With millions dying, starving, being brutalized all over the world, with nuclear war looming, we really need to know something about all that. The climate is changing. We are possibly suffering from that in western Canada. And that can have consequences we should know about. But we hear almost nothing about what we need to know.

A mentally ill man shoots people in Louisiana. What are we supposed to do with this information? What news editor would choose this cheap sensationalism as the big story of the day?

Well, okay. It could be useful. If you're in lineup at a movie theatre, and a guy in front of you is raving about plots and waving a revolver, get some popcorn, and wait for a later showing.

B4 has a half-page story about armoured cars made in Canada for rich people. It starts at $629,000 and up - very up.

So what?

On the last page, we read a Hispanic has become chief of the FBI office in New York. That's something you really need to know.

A gangster in Boston is appealing his life sentence. A man in Florida won a contest because he looks just like writer Ernest Hemingway. There is a more real story about a suicide bomber in Somalia - but it really gives us no understanding of what is going on in the region.

Then there is a real, but almost useless story about a truce in Saudi Arabia's attacks on Yemen to allow humanitarian aid into the country. Like many news stories, it tells us incidents but doesn't really explain anything. Why is Saudi Arabia attacking such a poor country? Why is the US giving weapons, training and money to carry on this war? Why has the  US been drone-bombing Yemen for years? And killing mostly civilians?

This is an abysmal choice of stories for a section called Canada&World. It strongly suggests the news editor deliberately chooses stories for sensationalism or just for space fillers.

There are other, more important things for us to know about. For example....

It is possible that the California drought is spreading to western Canada. Farmers have already lost a major part of their crop. Lack of grass is forcing ranchers to sell of their cattle at low, low prices. And they're looking for it to get worse, much worse. It's happened before. The Prairies were devastated by drought in the 1930s. This time, though, scientists are suggesting it may be the effect of climate change, and, therefore much more severe and longer lasting.

As a part of that, the west has just had the most wildfires in a year - and the real, wildfire season is still a month away.

The Irving press does have a related story - but just about British Columbia. It, too, is suffering a drought,, and Vancouver has begun rationing water. Scientists there are warning about a future of alternating floods and droughts for the province. The article, curiously, doesn't mention climate change.

Climate change may well be the biggest story in history. But we sure don't read much about it in the Irving press. And it has a direct connection with the federal election. Harper is pushing hard to get more free trade deals rushed through. These are deals which strip us of our powers to legislate rules for our new  'partners'. If we do, the deals now being settled allow them to sue us for unlimited billions of dollars. So much for our ability to respond to any crisis.

There's been very little about Greece, and what its debt agreement means. For a start, big money owns just about everything in Greece - and the government has no significant power to govern at all. The government of Greece is purely decorative. It's even had to give up its ownership of water supply and electricity. The bankers have them, too.

Democracy in Greece no longer exists. Now, picture the conditions in Greece. Real unemployment may be as much as half the population. There are no pensions. Big business took them back. There are no relief services. There is, for almost all Greeks, no medical care. And the debt agreement, far from giving Greece a fresh start virtually guarantees that conditions will get worse.

Can Greece simply declare bankruptcy and walk away? Not likely. Remember - it doesn't own any of the public services any more.

Greece can't walk away. And it can't vote for change. That means there's only one way to make change - by violence.  The western world, the greater defender of freedom, has destroyed freedom all over the world - in Latin America, in Africa, in the Middle East, and now in Greece.  And this is just the start of the great grab.

The very rich are now using their power to bleed us all dry. It's not a coincidence that the wage gap in the U.S. and Canada is increasing. And that makes democracy impossible. (We're already seeing some effects of this in the huge campaign fund of the Harper Conservatives. Even the Liberals, who usually get as many handouts from the wealthy as the Conservatives do, are left out this time. That's because Harper is making the big play for the very rich. That's why the Liberals, no slouches at giving welfare to the very rich, aren't getting much this time.

The real news of this election is that the very rich are making their move to make Canada the Greece of North America.  When they give so much to the Conservatives and so little to the Liberals, that's the message. But you won't see it in the Irving Press.

Will there be much violence in the world as a result of all this? You bet. There already is. After all, we already have Canadians pilots bombing Syria - killing people in that sloppy and undiscriminating way bombs do.       (Sorry. They're defending Canadian freedom against Syrian threats. And fighting for God and country. God is very big on bombing.)

The violence will come in one of two forms. If socialist, the revolutionaries will be killed as threats to the 'western way of life".  But, if Nazi, they will be funded and equipped by the very rich. That's the way it happened in the 1930s. For the rise of a violent, Nazi movement in the near future, watch Ukraine - the Kyev part.

We need to know what is going on in the whole world because it's all of it now just around the corner.
And we need analysis by people who know what they're talking about (which excludes almost everybody who writes for the Irving press.

We need information about climate change We need expert and honest opinion about it, neither of which is available from the Irving press.

We need editors who know what news is. We need newspaper ownership that allows a newspaper to tell the truth.

And maybe we could even get an opinion piece about what should be done to prevent the very rich from buying every election.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 26: This and that...

I read the New York Times with caution these days. But I was impressed by the following opinion column in it. After years of staring with glazed eyes at the Irving press, it's a pleasure to read an opinion column that actually is an opinion. I fear, though, that the prominence of Donald Trump is even worse than the columnist says. When Donald Trump speaks, it's not just him who shows hysteria and fear and hatred. It's the whole Republican party and, worse, it's a large portion of the whole American population.

That instability and near-insanity is the result of an overstated national pride that goes back all the way to the origins of the United States, to the use of history in schools to teach patriotism with propaganda and lies (as many New Brunswickers would like to do). And it has been made much worse by over a century of news media which are propagandist and delusionary.

Donald Trump is doing well because he reflects the direction the United States has been going in since 1775. He reflects the sense of superiority that sneers at all the rest of the world and makes it possible to kill without remorse, the self-centredness and greed, the racism, the hatreds, the fears, the hysterias , just like all the western empires before it. And Canada is not nearly so far behind that than we might think.

In the same issue of the New York Times is an excellent article on U.S. universities - and how awful they are as teaching institutions. Having taught thousands of students, I can say that Canadian universities are better - but not much.

The article refers, perhaps humorously, to professors as people who have devoted their lives to education. I hope that was humorous - because it sure isn't true. Almost universally, professors know nothing about education, and don't want to know. Prestige comes from research and publishing, not from teaching. And many, very many, professors devote their lives to prestige. And there ain't no prestige in being an educator.

University is supposed to be a place where students learn to think. But most professors have no idea how to do that.  So, it's mostly a place they learn to memorize. That's especially the case with business courses -- that I'm not sure should be in a university at all.

For a view of this is the American universities  (which are only a little worse than Canadian ones), read the site below.

For general reading of the news, I've already recommended the British papers, The Guardian and The Independent. The guardian is at ......

For The Independent....

Haaretz is mostly about Israel and the Middle East, and it's one of the best newspapers I know of.

For good commentary about Canada, I have a fondness for  Particularly good is Karl Nerenberg whom I knew slightly in my CBC days. He is probably the best journalist reporting on Parliament Hill. There is also an excellent column by David Climenhage. It's about two election polls, done by different companies, but using essentially the same methods. One shows the Conservatives way in the lead, the Liberals much lower, and the NDP lower still. That's the one that appeared in the Irving press - the one that Norbert commented on.

The other poll showed the NDP way in the lead and the Conservatives in the toilet.

Now, there's always a margin of error with any polls. But this is way beyond the limits of any "margin of error". So  how come the Irving press published one - but made no mention of the other?

Another favourite is Aljazeera. It's commonly dismissed as a Muslim propaganda sheet. In fact, it's not - and it's far, far more honest - and more intelligent - than any of the privately-owned news media in North America. And that certainly includes a cheaply run and shallow outfit like the Irving press.  You'll see a lot here that never makes it into our news media.

Don 't trust the BBC. Avoid Free Europe/Radio Liberty. It's pure propaganda, pure hate, and very crudely done. If you really must read propaganda, read some that's well done. Try....

That's Russia Today. It's run by the Russian government and, of course, it's propaganda. But, unlike Free Europe, it doesn't point fingers or call people names or hint at scandal.  It's rather more like patriotic boosterism - something like the Irving press but much more refined and readable. It might lie about conditions  in Russia; (I don't  know enough about conditions there to say). But it's foreign news is usually credible.

The best news source in Canada, by far, and one of the best in the world, is CBC. I have known it to deliberately lie only in the separatist period. There was a huge demonstration by anglo Montrealers who were gathered in a downtown square. I was on a balcony above the crowd covering it for a private station I then worked for. I also had an earphone to listen to coverage from the French network of CBC. What I heard was a statement by a French announcer that the official figure for the size of the crowd was 40,000.

In the first place, there was no such thing as an official figure. In the second place, every reporter in Montreal knew the capacity of that square because it was so often a rallying point. The capacity was  80,000 - and it was packed. More than that, I could see hundreds of  metres of streets in three directions, all of them jammed with marchers. That crowd was at least a hundred thousand.

Throughout the period of separatism, the French network of CBC was openly separatist and unethical. The English side, for its part, tried to avoid the subject. I  had worked for CBC early in that period, though I discussed separatism rarely, and only when I was asked to. However, I was elected Chairman of the anglo-rights group - and when that happened, I was fired (by Karl Nerenberg's brother.) Just being publicly known as being on the anti-separatist side, I got fired from my job of doing a long series on the history of Montreal street names.

The CBC is very, very good. But it has always had to run a little scared and, since Harper, very scared. It's no secret that Harper wants to destroy it, and will use any excuse it can get. If Harper wins the election, he will certainly privatize it - and destroy the best single group of journalists in North America.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

July 25: the many faces of fascism

Oh, you won't find any fascism in Section A news. In fact, you won't find anything in section A news.

The headline on the front page assures us the provincial government won't force bilingualism on civil servants. This is in response to a report which suggested it aim for bilingualism in the TOP RANKS of the civil service WITHIN FIVE YEARS. The government's reply is in the first paragraph of the story, the only part of the story that most newspapers readers will read, along with the headline  It gives the impression that howling mobs of Acadians are demanding control of the civil service, and that the Gallant government is bravely defending battered Anglos.

The real story is that the government is pushing the issue aside so it won't lose any votes. That's bad reporting and, more seriously, very, very bad editing. A reporter learns the ethics of journalism from his or her editors. But there ain't no learning happening in the Irving press.

A big story on A3 is that a Moncton councillor was shocked to hear that an man shot and killed two people and than killed himself in a movie theatre in Louisiana. Well, that certainly gives us a greater understanding of the killings. Perhaps we could now share the councillor's thoughts on the millions of people all over the world who are being murdered or starved to death to make sure we control the flow of oil.

And, for really big news, A mobile vendor for Real Fruit Smoothies is opening right here in Moncton. And this important news story just keeps rolling because it if does well, it will also open next summer.. God is kind to his servants.

The editorial makes a brave attempt to discuss why medical services in St. John need DNA equipment that is easily provided now by Moncton. Obviously, says the editorial, this is a problem of communications.

Nice try. But I don't see what communication has to do with it. There was communication, plenty of it. Communication is neither the problem nor the question. The question is - Why are we privatizing yet another part of our medical care system? Generally, privatizing is NOT economical. It is more expensive. And medical care is NOT a business. It's an essential public service. The function of business is to produce profit for its owners. Ensuring that we get the best possible care at a reasonable price has no connection with the purpose of private business.

Norbert has a column about a quarrel between doctors who refuse to provide services they are morally or religiously opposed to. He accuses critics of those doctors of finger-pointing, name-calling, political smears, etc. It's a good point but, in attacking it, Norbert might take a second look at finger -pointing, name-calling and political smears in his column, and at many others like it in the Irving press.

Brent Mazerolle's "commentary" is yet another trivial "What I did this summer" high school essay.

At the bottom of A 15 is a real commentary. It's by two doctors, and it's about the suffering of the 'climate refugees' in Canada's west. They say, with reason, that wildfires in the West are almost certainly a result of climate change - and that while Canadian governments are responding to the immediate effects of it, they are not doing anything for the root problem And the writers are obviously correct. Canada has one of the world's worst records in dealing with the problem of climate change. After all, we don't want to hamper our billionaires as they make profits that will, some day, trickle down to us. Yes, they will. duh.

Bill Belliveau has a column that is pretty good from paragaph 5 to 11. (The first 4 are plodding, make no necessary point, and are dreary reading - which means many people will stop reading after the first couple of sentences. And the last paragraph is, to be kind, vague. But hang in there, Paragraphs 5 to 11 make it worthwhile.
There is no news of any significance in the Canada&World section. There is,  yet again, a big story about Donald Trump - which really doesn't say anything, either, but is a good lead for us to consider what is happening in the world.

Fascism is a word that has no generally agreed upon meaning. It commonly is described as dictatorship. But we've had dictators millienia before we had fascism. To come to some real meaning, we have to look at the two, outstanding advocates of it - Mussolini and Hitler.

Both were dictators. But they certainly weren't the only dictators of their time - so that alone can't be the definition of fascism.

Both were very right wing. Hitler called his party National Socialist, but there was nothing socialist about it. If there had been,  western big business all over the western world would not have given him the support that brought him to power. Yes, Hitler was hugely admired by the wealthy of this world. And when Charlie Chaplin made "The Great Dictator", a film warning about the dangers of Hitler, the U.S. government made life to tough for him he had to leave the U.S. for most of rest of his life.
("The Great Dictator" is on youtube.)

Both Hitler and Mussolini exploited feelings of national pride. Unfortunately, a good way to do that is to base that pride on contempt for or fear of others. You can find that in almost any highly nationalist country. At the height of Empire, the British - especially the rich British - had nothing but contempt for all the 'inferior' peoples they murdered or ruled.  (I got a chance to see that in all the British that I met who worked in Hong Kong.)

The U.S. is very similar, with a nationalism that is closely linked to religion. For well over a century, it has been a common belief in the U.S. that God intended the American people to rule all of the Americas. It was called 'Manifest Destiny'. Today it has expanded to include the whole world, and is called 'American Exceptionalism'. All peoples are inferior to real Americans. (real Americans means white and non-Latino). This explains Donald Trump's campaign theme - Make America Great Again. It also explains his exploitation of Mexican men who come to American to rape white women. That's not much different from Hitler's use of Jews.)

(No. Donald Trump is not a fascist. More on that below.)

Some sources say that fascism means strict government control of private business. And that's just nonsense. Neither Hitler nor Mussolini imposed such controls. (If they had, Western big business would not have slobbered over them as it did.)

In fact, Mussolini clearly defined fascism as a way of giving big business influence and power in government. That's why its symbol was the fasces - a bundle or rods tied together with an axehead protruding. It symbolized, among other things, all the elements of society coming together in government - and the rich doing it without the need to get elected.  Yes, the rich doing it without the need to get elected.  Those who were wealthy became 'partners' of the government automatically. 'Partners of government'. Ever hear that term in New Brunswick?

Remember when the former Alward government of New Brunswick got elected. That's when Mr. Irving wrote in his newspaper that he was in "coalition" with the government. Coalition. That doesn't mean he's cooperating with it. After all, everybody is expected to cooperate. No. It means that without getting elected, he was a MEMBER of the government simply because he was rich. That's what coalition means.

And that is a textbook definition of  fascism. Mr. Irving promptly used his 'position as a member of the government' to hold a conference that would plan the provincial economy. He also told the premier who to pick as advisors to the minister of finance (who was also an old employee of his.).

In short, Mr. Irving is the man who has been planning our disastrous economy for the last six years or so. That's not just finger pointing. That's taking his word for it. That's what he wrote he was going to do.  Funny - Alec Bruce and Prof. Saillant never mentioned that.

Generally, capitalists cheered for fascism in the 1930s, even as they knew what was happening to the Jews. I agree that it's unfair to target the Queen for giving a Nazi salute when she was eight. What's significant about that photo of here is the man teaching her the salute is the man who became Edward VIII who was a great admirer of Hitler, and who curried Hitler's favour to use the conquest of Britain to get him back on the throne. And the woman who is also saluting with a big smile was Elizabeth's mother, and the woman who became Queen when Edward abdicated.

The reality is that enthusiasm for Hitler was high among the British wealthy and the aristocracy. The great fear of the wealthy all over the world was of socialism, not fascism. Hitler and Mussolini were widely seen as barriers against dreadful things like medicare and pensions. And that's part of the reason why international bankers are getting tough with Greece. That country is now ultra-fascist as all powers of government have been taken over by bankers.  (In the case of Ukraine, which is never m mentioned in our news media, they are bleeding the country out of pure greed.)

We aren't just at risk of fascism. It's here. Harper has a chance of winning the election because he has huge campaign funds from the very rich. The race for party leaderships and then for the presidency in the U.S. will cost at least a billion. And we shall have a heavy price to pay for the generosity of the very rich. And in both cases almost all our information about national and world affairs comes from private news sources owned by those same billionaires.

Fascism is something fairly new for Russia and China. But the U.S. has always had a  streak of fascism going all the way back to George Washington; and it's become far more obvious in recent decades. But for Trump, the only ism is egoism. And he's doing the thing he does best - playing on fear and hatred to attract attention. But the fact that it's working so well suggests that the U.S. is very, very close to social breakdown.

The Faith Page has a disappointingly trivial sermonette - disappointing because it was written by the only person I can remember writing something intelligent on that page. For a world in which people are dying by starvation, bombing, random killing and misery mostly inflicted by the Christian world, when a great many Americans and Canadians are living in poverty to satisfy the greed of the rich, the message to the faithful is  "roll with the punches." Jesus may have said that - but I can't recall the passage.

And the popularity of Pope Francis is dropping in the U.S. - from 76% a year ago to 59% now. The thinking is that this is because of his stands on climate change and uncontrolled capitalism. That's good. I would be worried if the country that elected George Bush and Obama and is now adoring Donald Trump were also to be universally liking the Pope.

Besides, it's a welcome relief to see a man of faith with both intelligence and guts.

I have a couple of readings that might be of interest..

 The first is from a reader, and it concerns the American and British strategy of destroying states to create instability in whole regions. The source is a pro-Russian one - but I have generally found it doesn't lie. It avoids criticism of Russia and its allies. But what  it says about other countries is generally true.

The other is a note by Maude Barlow of Council of Canadians. She is championing a court case to cancel a very new voting rule which is designed to turn away many voters from the ballot box, especially those likely not to vote for Harper. This could crucial in a close election - which is what this one is likely to be.

And the Dear Malcolm it opens with is me.. (Malcolm is my first name which I never use because it was also my father's first name - lots of confusion in my childhood home.)
Dear Malcolm,

When I wrote you last week to say that we aren’t done fighting the Harper Conservatives’ so-called “Fair” Elections Act, I meant it.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Federation of Students and three voters have filed to appeal the court’s decision last week not to grant the injunction we seek against onerous voter ID restrictions in the Conservatives’ new election laws.

An injunction would permit Elections Canada to allow all registered voters to use their Voter Information Cards as proof of address at the polls.

The court’s ruling found that there was a serious issue to be tried and the legislation would cause irreparable harm to registered electors who are denied the right to vote under these new rules.

As Council Executive Director Garry Neil told media today, “we contend that the judge failed to follow Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence underscoring the need to protect the right to vote as fundamental to our democratic system.”

The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, who has intervened in the case, has said he will allow all electors to use their Voter Information Cards, together with another piece of authorized ID, to vote in the October election if a decision is made in time.

Evidence from Harry Neufeld, former chief electoral officer of British Columbia, filed in support of the application, concludes that without an injunction “many tens of thousands of otherwise fully qualified and properly registered voters will be disenfranchised.”

Justice Stinson wrote in his ruling that "if the provision in the Fair Elections Act “is ultimately found to be unconstitutional, there will be no way to restore the right of improperly disenfranchised voters to participate in a past election.”

I know how deeply you care about repairing Canada’s broken democracy. Together with your support, we’re working hard to achieve that very goal.

I will have more to report back to you shortly.

With hope and resolve,

Maude Barlow
Maude Barlow
National Chairperson