Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 24: An apology...

I missed yesterday's blog because life became chaotic for the day. I  didn't need the world's chaos to add to it.

Luckily, I found only one column in the August 24 paper worth reading. It was Steve Malloy's column. At first, I thought it a waste of time; but that was the fault of a really bad headline by the editor, "NB should beware the danger of addictive drugs". I thought that sounded, at best, trite. However, Malloy's column is much, much better than that. I strongly advise reading it.

The editorial, as usual, takes the gold medal for brainlessness. It's an orgy of ecstasies about the opening of a new pizzeria on Mountain Road.

Something has to be done about these editorials. I have never seen such consistently  trivial, mindless, pointless and brainless editorials.

Except for Steve Malloy, there is no reason to read the August 24 edition.

For the August 25 issue ( just two days before my birthday for late shoppers), I thought an article by Prof. Don Savoie of U de Moncton might be worth reading. I was wrong.

He says that government power is too centralized in Ottawa, a trend he dates back to Pierre Trudeau. And this, with New Brunswick's small population, means it really has no voice in Ottawa.

Certainly, Canada is considerably centralized in its government. But it has been since 1867. It was designed that way.  Canada, from the start, was essentially a creation to serve big business. 0r put it on hold for years. As for the Senate representing regions, that's largely a fiction, and always has been. The Senate was created to make sure the wealthy, who have always been protected by a centralized Canada, can relax, knowing that if Canadians elect a government that is too enthusastic about doing thngs for us ordinary Canadians the senate turkeys appointed by the previous government can block it, at least for a time.

Canadian democracy does have some very serious problems with its democracy - the illegitimate power exercised by the very wealthy, the failure of most Canadians to give political issues any serious thought, the lying and propaganda of most of our newspapers, the failure of academics to look at these problems....

There is a not very thoughtul article on A7 about Moncton's small, Ukrainian population celebrating Ukraine's national day. There's no reason why we shouldn't. But the tone of the article conveys an image of a Ukraine that doesn't exist. Ukraine is not, for example, fighting for autonomy. The fighting is a civil war, and it was provoked by the U.S. for reasons that had nothing to do with autonomy. And its government has been a tool of international bankers and speculators to strip the country of everything that makes life possible. They have impoverished it.

As well, the country has a prominent Nazi party which is or was in league with the government, and which, in World War Two was a servant of Hitler in rounding up Jews for extermination.

The opinion and commentary pages start badly.  The editorial is the usual nothing. And Norbert, who can be good,  just cannot shake some of his village square, tobacco-chewing and spitting political thinking.

His frequent misuse of the word 'bureaucrat' is an exsample. Itwas not originally a term of contempt. A bureaucrat is a person to does the administrative work of government, and it usually means someone at a high level. Some bureaucrats, (like some journalists),  have been arrogant, uncaring and inneffective. These are characteristics you will find in any group of humans. (even billionaires, perhaps especially billionaires.)

The origin of bureaucrat as a swear word was with big business which didn't like government controls, and journalists who like to write columns that rich people like to read. In fact, the most orderly period of Canadian history was through World War Two and into the 1950s when centralization and bureaucracy in government were most provounced. That gave us a long period of development and growth of services - until big business took over to destroy government bureaucracy and the economy.

In fact, those who use bureaucracy as a swear word define it as meaning indifference to the needs of the people.  Well, if  you want to name those in our society who are indifferent to the needs of the people, try these three - Liberals, Conservatives, and billionaires.

Allan Cochrane has nothing to say about the Magnetic Hill concert. So he says nothing for half a page, assisted by a large photo that says nothing.

But then - an excellent Seniority rules column by Louise Gilbert on the importance of activity - gardening, artistic endeavours, writing - for seniors. She's right. That's why I do this blog. (I also tried painting, though with mixed reviews.)

And, right after that, a superb column by Alec Bruce on early schooling. This is a must read. Our public schools began in Scotland - largely to teach reading and, in particular, to teach reading of The Bible since Scottish Protestants were moving from the Catholic belief in simply submitting to the authority of the church and on to a belief one should read The Bible, and develop one's own understanding.

It was expanded in the nineteenth century to produce minimally knowledgeable factory workers. In fact, it was modelled on factories with their assembly lines, bells, marching in order - and it is still largely a creature of the 1920s - though quality of teaching is now far, far higher. But the system needs serious rethinking. One of the areas for such rethinking is early childhood - pre-kindergarten.
It does a great deal to keep more children in school and produce more graduates ready for employment and/or high education.

This is an outstanding column.

There's a masterpiece of news that tells us nothing on B1. "Major hurdle cleared for Energy East pipeline." In brief, gas delivery companies have been assured that the Energy East Pipeline will not affect their profits. And to be extra sure, the Canadian government will give natural gas customers a hundred million dollar rate reduction.

It doesn't say what it means by natural gas customers. Companies that buy natural gas to sell it to the public? Or does it mean us public?

Where's the hundred million coming from?

What does this have to do with the safety of natural gas or of oil pipelines?

The incentives  will run for another 35 years. So - we're aiming to be still using fossil fuels on a large scale for at least another 35 years? That sounds like a pretty casual approach when it is possible we are at or even past the date of no return.

Premier Gallant is all excited that this is good news for New Brunswick because "..it looks to the energy sector for economic security in the future."

Wonderful. And what will we do for human survival?

Perhaps the biggest story, also on B1, is that a man accused of killing a state trooper in New Orleans may also have killed his roommate.  Why did the editor think that his was important for us people to know? There are more important stories out there, and the whole Canada&World section is only 6 pages.

B3 carries on the editor's taste for picking stories using a pointer while blindfolded. The U.K. is issuing new rules after an airshow crash. The Ashley Madison data is taking a toll on families all over the world. On B5, a California priest get 6 months for sexual abuse of a female passenger during a flight. (In fairness that could be useful for male clery who are looking for new forms of kindy sex.) This is all trivia and sensationalism.

The last page of section B has the story of how our good friends in Saudi Arabia have executed 175 people in the past year. Most were by beheading. But cutting off  hands so people bleed to death is also popular. Usually, the papers mention this only when ISIS is doing the killing.

Generally, though, the news - all of it - is trivia.

What's happening in Yemen? It's a poor country. And it hasn't been invading anybody I've heard of. So why has the U.S. been drone-bombing it for years. killing unknown thousands? Why is Saudi Arabia now bombing and starving a whole nation to death? Why is the U.S. supplying the bombs? Are the people of of Yemen threatening to invade the U.S.? Or Saudi Arabia? Most of the dead are civilians. And that's going to get much worse.

These are actions that are in defiance of the UN, of international law, and disgusting by any standard of decency. What's happening is a genocide that may rise to the level of Hitler's holocaust. Why are war criminals like Bush, Blair, and  Obama walking free?

And Canada is a part of this. Canada has not said a word of criticism. Canada has not used the UN for the purposes it was designed to serve.

Though one would never guess it from the Irving press,  it was the West that created the whole mess that is the Middle East. It was Britain, that created Saudi Arabia into a nation, and made a royal family out of bandit cutthroats. It was the US and Britain that destroyed democracy in Iran to get control of its oil. It was the U.S. that destroyed Egypt's brief fling at democracy. It was the west - the whole west - that planted Israel in the middle east, displacing and impoverishing Palestinians without ever doing anything to help them. How generous of us to give away land that wasn't ours!

It was the U.S. that created and supplied what we now call terrorist groups to overthrow the government of Syria. It was the U.S. that destroyed Iraq so thoroughly that it may never recover. It was the US, with Canadian help, that turned Libya into a hell on earth. Over a century of exploitation, plundering, killing, destroying by us is what created ISIS.

And now it is drawing in Russia (on the U.S. side, I think) which is moving in to help fight ISIS because Muslim 'extremism' is now a threat to Russia, as well. We have made the whole Middle East a humanitarian disaster...and there's much worse to come as the various nations and groups fight it out to control the region. And Israel has nuclear bombs.

And it's all for the oil whose use can only destroy us. It's all for the oil because oil is the world's major source of profit. There is no other reason for these wars - just to make profits for monster oil companies that don't give a damn about how many people they kill or how they do it.

This is insane.

We're living in a time in which democracy has largely ceased to exist. It's a world in which the nation-state is ceasing to function, and a world in which the concept of the United Nations has long been in collapse.

Where is the news, at any level, of governments dealing with the very serious problems that face us - climate change with its destructive effects on our forests, life species, on fresh water, on food supply for a world already short of food. Even at the local level, virtually nothing is being done, nothing is being planned, nothing is even being mentioned.

Add to those the fact we live in an economic system that allows big money to run wild. It's now exploring the Arctic Circle for minerals, drilling and dynamiting what is already the most fragile part of this earth. There, as in Central America and Africa (and, I expect, China and Russia) we're destroying what we can never fix.

Add to that the wage gap. Almost everybody on earth is getting poorer while a tiny handful get richer. You don't need to be an economic genius to figure out where this will take us.

But, not to worry. Just relax, open your Irving paper, and read about which aging rock star has a birthday today.


  1. "It was Britain, that created Saudi Arabia into a nation, and made a royal family out of bandit cutthroats"

    The Al Saud were a minor royal family well before Britain became involved in the Middle East and have made multiple attempts to establish their rule.. Starting as the rulers of the Emirate of Diriyah in 1744. Ruling a relatively small state the Ottomans crushed it in 1818. A second attempt by the Al Saud to build a state in central Arabia began almost immediately. Called the Emirate of Nejd this lasted until 1891. In 1902 the Al Saud captured Riyadh. The al-Qassim region was taken in 1906. Al-Ahsa and Qatif were captured in 1913. Come 1916 Britain and France did encourage an Arab revolt. However, it was the Al Saud's rivals in Mecca who answered the call. The Al Saud stayed out of it and focused on gaining territory. The end result of the Kuwait–Najd War was the first time Britain became involved when it handed over about 2/3rds of Kuwait's territory to the Al Saud. Addituionally, Britain negotiated a treaty with the Al Saud in order to protect their other possessions in the region. When the Sadi state attacked, and defeated, Hejaz in 1918 Britain intervened to prevent Hejaz from being immediately absorbed.

    So, yes, Britain was involved in some indirect ways but the Al Saud came to rule Arabia primarily on their own military prowess.

  2. What's a royal family?
    Is it a creation of God? Is it a separate species? How does it become royal?
    They came to rule Arabia on their own military prowess? How is this different from being a cutthroat bandit?
    Britain gave them over 2/3s of Kuwait? It made a treaty with Al Saud to protect its possessions? How is this different from setting them up? What's indirect about it?

  3. What's a royal family?
    Is it a creation of God? Is it a separate species? How does it become royal?
    They came to rule Arabia on their own military prowess? How is this different from being a cutthroat bandit?
    Britain gave them over 2/3s of Kuwait? It made a treaty with Al Saud to protect its possessions? How is this different from setting them up? What's indirect about it?

  4. "Is it a creation of God? Is it a separate species?"

    I once read an interesting point about being able to define the royalty in Europe as a seperate ethnic group since it matches most, if not all, the criteria but I digress.

    "How does it become royal?"

    Descent from royal parentage one would assume. As for how a person becomes a royal that varies based on time and place. Some were appointed by religious figures, some by conquest, some were voted the position by local assemblies, some by lot, some by lifetime election, some by acclamation of the army. and some by succeeding from a larger entity.

    "How is this different from being a cutthroat bandit?"

    Not arguing the Al Saud were not warlike but they were royal before Britain came along. Which brings us to...

    "Britain gave them over 2/3s of Kuwait?"

    When they were aiming at annexing all of it.

    "It made a treaty with Al Saud to protect its possessions?"

    Protect it from who? The only contender was the Hejaz and they were very much Britain's ally (for a while at least). Britain for its part gained recognition by the Saudi state that their other Arab puppets wouldn't be attacked.

    "How is this different from setting them up? What's indirect about it?"

    The difference is that if you remove Britain from the equation the Saudi State would still have came to occupy the dominant position on the peninsula. In some instances (the Hejaz and Kuwaiti conquests) it would have been quicker to gain territory. Funny enough, the only reason the state likely survived at all is the discovery of oil since before that point the primary industry in Arabia was the inflow of money from the Hajj. Without this the Hashamites may well have managed to regain Mecca.

    Sure, Britain could have attacked the Saudi State at any point but then we'd still be decrying British interference in the Middle East. While the view of Britain as puppet master of the world is popular it can be used to render indigenous groups as mere bystanders in their own history.