Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10: A day to remember.

Certainly, I shall never forget it. And it often comes to mind as I write these blogs. It was a day in October of  1962. I was a teacher at Malcolm Campbell High School in Montreal. As I went to school that day, I felt my heart tightening. The steps to the school were packed with students waiting for the bell to ring. And as I walked through them, we were all there together, but each of us quite alone. And quite frightened. Then a girl's voice broke the silence with a wail of despair, "but we haven't even had a chance to get married yet."

It seemed comic in that terrible moment. But it's the moment of that time I best remember.

Oct. 1962 was when the Soviet Union sent nuclear missiles by ship to Cuba. President Kennedy warned him to call the shipment off. We were within days, perhaps hours, of a nuclear war. Kruschev of the Soviet Union backed off. And President Kennedy became the hero of the hour. (I was always puzzled by that. Kennedy was the one who had bombed, set up an invasion of Cuba, and tried many times to murder Castro for his "terrorism" in kicking out a murderous dictator who ruled and looted that tiny nation for billionaires like Kennedy. That's why Castro gave permission for the nuclear missiles. He knew the U.S. planned to invade. About then years later, while sailing in the Florida Keys, I saw many, many short-range missiles - obviously for Cuba, a tiny country with no capacity to attack the U.S.)

We are now closer to a nuclear war than we were then - and a much bigger one. But who's worrying?  Certainly nobody at the Irving press.   There is a huge difference between now and 1962. In 1962, we were living in a world brought alive by a world war, and a sudden possibility of better lives. Adults and, certainly, teens were aware to the new opportunities - and that was reflected in popular music that mixed optimism with a very critical look at obstacles -- as in the Pete Seeger Song "Where have all the flowers gone?"

But almost all of that has gone. We have become trivial, escapist, goalless - much of that due to news and entertainment propaganda and trivia that have created a vast, intellectual stupor.
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That's reflected in the Irving press for today. There's not a news story in the whole, damn paper worth reading. There's not even much of drooling sensationalism - with the exception of another multiple  murder in the U.S.

The editorial is, as always, self-righteous, posturing, and quite ignorant of its topic. The writer attacks  a union for working and perhaps contributing money to the Liberal party for the election. I was critical of it, too. I was critical because that might have been done  (we don't know)  without the consent of union members.

The editor is critical because, he says, the history of labour unions shows that  they were intended to collect dues only to finance strikes, to support members who needed help - that sort of thing.

Mr. editorial writer you are ignorant of the history of the labour movement as you have generally been ignorant of every other topic you have written on. Unions have always had a right to be involved - like any other organization - in politics. They have that right just as, say, big business does. But, Mr. editorial writer, you would never have the guts to write about any Irving as you write about the unions.

The point is not that they had no right to do it. The point is that it should have the consent of members. (As well, there's a question to be asked about why any labour union would accept leaders who are such twits that they would support the Liberal party in an election. It offers nothing to union members, and never has. In fact, it was the great Liberal leader Mackenzie King who wrote 'Industry and Humanity" which was a scheme to destroy unions with company associations controlled by the bosses.

This is really a contemptible editorial, even for the TandT. He says the union is wrong because it has no right to resist or change public policy. Where did that gem come from?  There is nothing wrong with changing public policy. And we all have a right to resist it and try to change it. That's called democracy.

But I have an idea for your next editorial. This time, be a mensch. Write under  this heading
"Mr. Irving, get your big nose and your money out of politics."

Steve Malloy has a very local column. But the issue is important; and it's worth a read and some thought.

The other commentaries are, to put it kindly, lightweight.
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The Irving press today is so stinking, it's not worth even the time I've given it. We need to get a real newspaper. But we're not going to get it in a North America in which almost all news media are owned by a handful of billionaires - and in which Harper intends to destroy the only good news outfit we have - the CBC.  So I chose aljazeera as my first example of a real newspaper. Big business has chosen to break out of our world through free trade. They use the power that free trade gives them to impoverish us. We need to break out, too, and take advantage of the sort of intelligent and honest news media that have largely vanished in the western world.

http://www.aljazeera.com/

I would particularly urge you to read about the heat wave in Egypt where temperatures have reached 47 centigrade and many have died. But, of course, as Alec Bruce hints in his column today, climate change is not happening. And environmental damage is not happening. No.  And islands are not sinking into deepening oceans - despite the mention of this in aljazeera.

I would also strongly urge reading the opinion column "The Seven Sisters" and "A New Era in U.S.-Israel Relations".I don't suggest  you must agree with these. But they are opinions on major concerns written by knowledgeable people. Even when we don't agree with them, we can still learn by reading them and thinking about them.

This is news that covers major topics of the day - not  just about a craft fair that closed yesterday.Or about a retired teacher who still likes to kayak.

Then go to         http://www.haaretz.com/
This is more narrowly focussed on Israel. It's still worth reading because its journalism is honest, well-informed, and unbiased. As well, it's a country we need to know about because it represents a country that could very soon take us into a nuclear war.


http://www.theguardian.com/uk   has a much broader range than either aljazeera or Haaretz. It also has room for a little more triviality.But the reporting is just as solid, and there are even more commentaries, all of them informed and intelligent.

Read those three. That's an order.  And, if you're a real hero or heroine, try the crossword puzzle.
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Finally, based on general reading, I can confidently say that nothing significant is going to be done about climate change. The oil industry all over the world doesn't want to even hear about it. Obama's attempt to set a schedule for climate action is going to be killed by a congressional vote, or by the election of the next president, or by billionaires who will flood the courts with their lawyers.

The pipeline to St. John will be built. Fracking will resume. And if there's opposition? Well, that's what we have a police state for. (Were you kidding yourself the police state is to protect us from terrorists? No, it's not. It's to protect oil billionaires from you.)

By the way, I dearly wish the news media would stop using the word terrorists only for one side. All war is terrorism. And the most warlike country, and most terrorizing country, in the world for the last sixty years has been the U.S. And the greatest terrorist acts in history are still the firebombing of Tokyo and the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasake - all aimed at civilian targets.

Well, they may not be the worst. We've never had a full report on civilians deaths in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Iraq. Then there's the massacre of Guatemalans, all civilian, and the daily terrorism practiced by our mining companies in Central America and Africa.



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