Tuesday, July 7, 2015

July 7: So they've been and gone and done it.

Moncton City Council has approved a reguest to  borrow $95 million for an "events centre". The carrot that drew the donkey on was the story that this would produce immense profits for the city. It won't.

Get real. If there were any profits to be made out of the events centre, do you think our economic bosses would allow us peasants to get within sniffing distance of it?

And jubilation appears in the pages of the Irving press which has been telling us for years that government is incompetent and wasteful, and doesn't know how to do these things. Now, suddenly, they have decided  government is good, and is the ONLY way to do this.

The only person guaranteed to get a good deal out of this is the wealthy owner of the hockey team who will get use of a new rink on very generous terms. This is typical New Brunswick welfare for the wealthy. At the expense of the rest of us.

A3 has a story "Moncton wins praise from U.K.'s The Guardian". This is the only time I have known the Irving press to refer to "The Guardian", though it is generally regarded as the world's best English-language newspaper. Hilariously, it referred to the TandT as the best read of papers the reporters had seen in various FIFA cities. I suspect that was meant as a cruel joke.

More interesting is the story that spectators who wanted something to eat or drink  could get it only at  dispensers of FIFA products - at FIFA prices. And spectators were not allowed to bring in their own refreshments. Odd. I don't remember reading that in the TandT at the time. And that takes us to another question.

FIFA has been under heavy attack for  demanding bribes to award the games to various cities. Why haven't we heard any more about that? Did we bribe anybody? And for how much?

About half of all section A news is devoting to money-making ventures for the city. The rest is largely trivia. And there is not one story about human or social needs.

The editorial is trivial and it adds nothing to a story the paper has already told many times - the  obscure meanings of our road signs.

Norbert has a very sensible column on immigration to Moncton. He recommends we encourage  immigrants of similar backgrounds, religion, language so that those who come have plenty of  mutual support. It's not the whole answer, of course. But it's a good start.

In what he (presumably as a joke) refers to as a commentary, Alan Cochrane looks forward to reliving his teeny-bopper years, as April Wine arrives soon to play on Main St. in Moncton.

More interesting, much more, is a commentary by Sue Calhoun of Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee. This is well worth a read. It does Moncton credit. But I can't understand why this wasn't a news topic a long time ago.

Alec Bruce offers a column  which could have been titled, "government bad.  private business good."

It is based on a new book by Donald Savoie of U de M. He is, Mr. Bruce tells us, one of New Brunswick's leading public intellectuals. ( Hint - if you have to tell readers he's a leading public intellectual, he isn't. This is in the same category as the TandT's habit of referring to professors as "noted" or "respected". All it really means is that the boss of Irving press agrees with them).

The book seems to be all about the decline of efficiency of Canada's public services. And,  yes, of course they have declined. But it seems not to have occurred to Dr. Savoie that this might have a good deal to do with the unleashing of the hounds of big business, with the power of big business to buy governments and to dictate to them. And it might have something to do with the constant attacks of rags like the Irving press on the government ruining everything.

Fifty years ago, Canada had a superb civil service, one of the best in the world. But since then, it's been under constant attack from big business and its toadies in the news media.

The recession was not caused by government. It was caused by the  often illegal and immoral practices of big business, especially banks. And we not only forgave them for the misery their behaviour caused, we actually have them tons of our tax money (Canada and the US) so they wouldn't feel bad.  As a result, they are making more money than ever, and still stiffing us with the bill.

Iceland is doing better than us. That's because they let the banks go broke, and put the bankers in jail for what they had done.

Our newspapers are still playing the same game. Today's Acadien Nouvelles had a political cartoon of a Greek temple in ruins; and the message was that the no vote shattered Greece. In fact, Greece was shattered long ago ( and under a different government), and it was shattered by corrupt government and business, and by bankers who set the country up for an eternity of poverty. Bankers and other capitalists are doing the same to Ukraine.

It seems that Savoie also - and contemptibly, blames only government for the Lac Megantic disaster that killed 47 people. I have no doubt it shared blame. But it was not the government that hired a railway that had a terrible reputation for safety. It was not the government that put just one man on a train of dangerous cargo. It was not the government that made an "error" about the nature of the cargo - and it was not the government that put a dangerous cargo into  fragile containers.

Savoie's summary of private business good, government bad seems to ignore the cause of all this - the monstrous corruption of    governments by private businesses whose only motive is greed. And how it's all kept secret from us by the news media that private business people own.

We  once had an excellent public service. We could well have one again. Yes, some of our politicians are corrupt and manipulative.     But what we need is a book on who has made them corrupt and manipulative.  But, so far, I have seen little sign that anybody in the New Brunswick academic world is ready to write such a book.                                                                                                                                    
And if anyone did, I doubt very much that it would be mentioned in the Irving press.
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B section begins with our information and privacy commissioner who will not charge senior officials for breaking the law by censoring a guest list for a government meeting. It seems they were even told by their own staff that they were breaking the law. But, says the commissioner, she prefers to give everybody a warning.

"What?, said daddy to his little son, "you murdered mommy? Well, if you do it again, daddy spank."

B1 also has a story on the Greek "no" vote, which refused to accept the terms of very big bankers to repay their debts. Generally, the story puts Greece in a bad light - and that's common in all the western press. And all of it ignores both reality and humanity.

The Greeks did not cause their debt. That was done by right-wing governments that were corrupt - and also spent very heavily on weapons. Like discussion of the recession here, the debate is being framed to send the message that the problem was caused by Greeks all suddenly quitting their jobs, perhaps because of a mass plague of laziness flu.

The real cause was corrupt politicians, corrupting capitalists, and bankers who knew they were lending beyond the limits of repayment - but kept lending it for the sake of their corrupt buddies.

The reality is that unregulated capitalism has created suffering, mass murder, starvation and destitution that we now see all over the world.

The Greek leadership and the Greek people have decided life is not just about giving the very rich ever more money at the cost of killing, starving and. making homeless and miserable many millions of people.

The choice is which is more important. More money for people who can't begin to spend all that they have ripped off. Or are people more important? So far, the oligarchies that rule most of us have decided that money is sacred. And that human life is expendable.

That could make an interesting sermon for a clergyman on Sunday.  But not a likely one.

B3 has the story that this is the second anniversary of the rail crash in Lac Megantic that killed 47 people. In two years, Canada has done little about this disaster. Nor, so far as I can tell, has there ever been a full investigation. What's more important? People or money?

Well, Harper says that some day he will bring down tougher regulations for the oil and rail industries. Some day. Maybe to take effect in 2025. Yawn.

Page B4 surprised me with a much more sympathetic view of the Greek vote.

The same page also has "Massive air strike hits market in Yemen". About 50 civilians were killed. The killers were Saudis, supplied, out of good-heartedness, with bombs from the U.S. So far, over 3,000 Yemenis have been killed - though that doesn't count the thousands, mostly innocent, killed over the years by US drone bombers. Almost the whole population is starving, and over a million are homeless.

Why are two of the wealthiest nations in the world murdering the people of one of the poorest nations in the world? Well, so far our news media haven't told us. But it must be that all of those poor people are extremists - and not at all like the saints of the U.S. and Saudi governments.

B6 tells us that 60 people were killed by extremists in Nigeria. Funny thing. I've never seen extremism mentioned in the mass murder of uncounted millions of Vietnamese,in the carpet bombing of undefended Cambodian cities, of over a  million Iraqis or of the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo or at US prisons all over the world.

As to the very provocative actions of the US in moving troops and heavy weapons toward Russia, and carrying out provocative war games near the Russia border, provocation that has us within an inch of nuclear war. - well, that doesn't even make the news.

The American empire is in decline. If the US very rich want to stay very rich, they have to act now, before it's too late. They have to act and risk the lives of millions, possibly billions to stay rich. So what will they choose? Money or human life? And we all know the answer to that.

B6 also has a story on the visit of Pope Francis to Latin America. Most of it tells us nothing. However, the last six paragraphs are more interesting. He gave notice that he will be talking about profit-at-all-cost development, about the damage this causes to the poor, and about the environment. It will be interesting to see what coverage the Irving press gives to that.

Our news media generally reflect what our world is - a place in which the rich insist on getting richer
 no matter what the damage to the earth or to us. There is every thought for money -- and almost none for people. That's the message we're getting on Greece. Closer to home, the Irving press news news in section A has largely the same message. Money counts. People don't.

Enjoy feeling self-righteous. Go to church. Best of all, go to the Irving Chapel. It has a top-notch God who knows that money is what counts.

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