Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sept. 30: connecting the dots.

It started with news story I read about Harper's decision to build a multimilliondollar monument in Ottawa to victims of communism. It would be aimed, in particular, at Chinese and Russian victims. Well, okay. All victims deserve to be remembered. And Mao Zedong and Stalin certainly had a lot of victims.

Then I watched an old movie - “55 Days at Peking”. It's set in China of just over a century ago when there was a Chinese rebelliion against western capitalists who dominated the port cities of eastern China to control the nation's trade. Over the years, western armies had pretty much destroyed any organized government in China, killing a great many Chinese in the process. And the western capitalists had exploited the Chinese people by, among other things, letting them, in the millions, starve to death in the frequent national breakdowns caused by the destruction of government, and by the brutal terms the western capitalists had set on trade. After all, rebellions don't start without a reason.

The western powers also developed a new type of ship, the China gunboat, so that their navies could control the rivers of China – and 'discipline' any Chinese who seemed unhappy with the terms of trade.

But none of this showed in the movie. A leading star, David Niven, played the part of a British official in Peking. He was a nice man. The Chinese rebels weren't nice. They made faces at him. They shot at him.

Films play an important part in deciding how we see history – and how we see today's world.

 So Harper points to Mao's killings when he got control of China. (I've seen figures as high as 30 million or more – but nobody has a figure even in the ballpark.) So we will have a monument to victims of communism in China. (And we'll just forget that China has actually never been communist.)

Now, Mao certainly killed people. That happens when you fight a revolution. George Washington killed people. Mao also killed a lot of Japanese who invaded China in the Second World War, Japanese indiscriminately killed enemy soldiers, women babies with an extraordinary brutality. (for a sample, go to Google images of the rape of Nanjing – or Nanking).

Or you might want to check out the murderous career of Chiang Kai-Shek who killed Chinese by the millions with enthusiastic support from U.S. capitalists. (The Japanese invaders, by the way, were in China to serve the interests of Chinese capitalists.)

And, by the way, many, perhaps most, of Mao's victims were not deliberate victims. They were victims of a very bad agricultural programme that Mao attempted.

But, yes, there are victims of what we call communism. And we should remember them. But what do we do about the many, many more victims of capitalism. For a start, there was the murder of tens of millions of native peoples in the Americas. There was the British Empire in Africa, Asia, America. There were the empires of France and Spain and Portugal. There was even tiny Belgium which killed millions by murder, by torture, by starvation in the Congo. And we're still doing it.

Put those all together, and even Stalin and Mao are small time.

So why aren't we building a memorial to victims of communism and capitalism?

We won't, of course. And it is likely impossible to convince most people of how evil and murderous we have been. We have been brainwashed by media that propagandize. And it's reinforced by movies which give us a view of history that never happened. And that makes us easy pickings for the Harpers of this world.
By the way, ever notice that capitalists don't like to call themselves capitalists? No. Read the Irving press. It prefers the word 'entrepreneurs'. So much more----genteel.
I was sent a quite stunning story by a reader. I'm not familiar with the source. But it makes sense as I connect it with events that I know happened.

The story is densely written – which can make it a hard read. But it's logical, and it fits in with other information I have seen.

The U.S. intervention in the Middle East has been a disaster, particularly from the decision to invade Iraq. This (and this is no secret} was planned by The Project for the New American Century. It's in Google. This was planned in the 1990s by people representing leading American capitalists, including the oil industry. One of the participant was Jeb Bush. It's a plan for world conquest and American control of all the world's economies. It also gave rise to a belief that anyone who becomes president must have – that the US, and only the US, has American exceptionalism – the right to ignore all law and to do whatever the U.S. (meaning American billionaires) want to do. That's why Obama, with a straight face can tell Russia it's not allowed to intervene in Syria. - But the U.S. is allowed to.

That's why the U.S. has military bases numbering something like a thousand all over the world. That's why it has 'special ops'  hired killers. That's why it invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. That's why it overthrew the elected government of Ukraine. That's why is created organizations like al Quaeda and ISIS to overthrow Iraq. But several things have gone wrong.
1. The U.S. military has not been able to secure a clear win over any of those. In particular, the tenacity of ISIS in continuing to fight means the U.S. has bogged down. A win is not even in sight.
2. Bogged down as it is, the U.S. have been unable to carry out two wars it badly wanted – with Russia and China.
3. Worse. Both Russia and China have called America's bluff, and are looking for a permanent presence in the Middle East.
4. A century of western interference and killing and exploitation is causing a general breakdown in the region. Nations artificially created by western conquerors are fall apart. And some are looking elsewhere for an ally and for markets.

In short, we may be looking at a major step in the collapse of the American Empire.

The site below explains it more fully.

Then there's the news the Irving press missed.

From CBC for Sept. 29
1. Canadian and American military leaders are discussing the integration of Canadian and American forces. That should scare the wits out of Canadians. Think. If there is integration, even on a small scale, that means we shall have to join in those wars the U.S. wants us to fight. Once an integration is achieved, it involves standardizing training, equipment, all based on an agreement that our part will be there when asked for. Integration is not like an alliance. An integration means a commitment. It means we surrender our right to decide who we will fight, and when we will go to war.  Nor is it likely this means Canada could call on such an integrated force for its own needs. We shall become simply a fully subordinate colony to the U.S. - even more subordinate than we ever were to the British Empire.

Forget parliament. Forget those Nov. 11 speeches about how our sacrifices in WW1 gave us the right to declare war on our own. We will fight wars when the U.S. wants us to. And it will choose the enemy.

I don't understand how a newspaper could miss a story so fundamentally affecting the independence of Canada.

And if these discussions are happening, it's a sure thing Harper has approved them. Military chiefs don't decide on the futures of nations without the approval of the boss – especially a micro-boss like Harper.

2. Also on yesterday's CBC news, Harper has been claiming that carbon dioxide emissions have been going down in Canada. That's not true. There was some time ago, a drop due to a lagging economy. But it was an insignificant 2% over 7 years. And since then it's been going up.

And there's another story – this one several years old but that I hadn't know about. To see the story, google The Harper Government. It seems that Harper confuses the role of elected PM with that of a monarch. Apparently, he ordered all civil servants in speech and in writing not to call our government The Government of Canada – the term which has served us for almost a hundred and fifty years. No. It must be called The Harper Government.

Along with his micro-management and his contempt for democracy, this suggests a man who needs to see a very good psychiatrist. And, no. I'm not exaggerating.

And, as you might have guessed, there isn't much in the Irving press. The front page banner headline is “New Brunswick has the largest proportion of seniors in country”. It's true, of course. But that's been common knowledge for a long time. It's like a headline to announce “Tomorrow will be dark until sunrise”.

A6 has the hot story that the Touch-a-Truck fundraiser was a big success. - which is also the story they had yesterday.

The editorial writer is still incapable of writing about anything of significance or anything that is not about money. This time it's a cry to have more lobster festivals.

Norbert attacks teachers and civil servants who take sick days off at full pay. Right on, baby. Now, Norbie, write the clincher on how Mr. Irving sets an example for us all. Tell us how, if he misses a day, he refuses to accept his million dollars for that day.

Cormier writes about his personal relationships with moose. (You don't want to go there.)

The guest column is about how we should spend more on daycare. Okay. But his whole argument is based on evidence which, as the columnist says, doesn't really prove anything. Where do the editors find these people?

Alec Bruce is good, and the only one worth reading.

The first page headline of Canada&World is a disgrace. “Extramarital affair highlighted at Oland trial.”
First, this is not a big story about Canada and the World. And highlighting this sordid story every damn day is cheap sensationalism. And to do it just to tell us Oland had an affair with somebody is really gutter snsationalism.

The bottom of the page has a more useful follow-up to earlier stories about prison deaths.

Then there's “Fighting Islamic State will take time: Obama”. Think about that. The most powerful country in the world with far the biggest military budget in the world is having trouble defeating a relatively small number of amateur soldiers.

He also says this a fight against the ideology of terror. Please. The biggest terrorist in the world, by far, is the United States. War has always been about terror. And for the last 60 years or more the U.S. has carried its terror to new heights.

There is one, important story they got. Yesterday, I said Saudi bombers (dropping U.S. bombs) killed some 35 people at a wedding in Yemen. That figure has been revised. It's now 136 dead, 80 of them women. (Hey! We gotta protect this world against terrorists.)
a footnote - I should have mentioned for yesterday's blog that section C of the paper had an excellent column on taking tough courses in school. Alas! I don't have that paper any more, and I can't remember the name of the columnist. But she's good.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sept. 29: The big story that isn't in the Irving press.

Harper has recently taken on a new campaign adviser. He's worked for Harper before – and the two have much in common.

Lynton Crosby is an Australian who has done well out of his skill at playing divisive and dirty politics. He's also a tobacco lobbyist of considerable note. His enemies call him evil – which I have no doubt he is. But he's very, very good at being evil. He's Harper's kinda guy.

He's particularly good at stirring up hatreds and fears based on racism and hysteria – again, something in common with Harper. (Not to mention something in common with Hitler.) He seems to work only for parties of the right and/or the rich. And he's been credited with winning elections almost on his own.

Check Lynton Crosby in google. See if you can find somebody who likes him.

How could the Irving press miss this story? It all reminds me of how we are reliving the 1930s of Hitler's Germany. The sides aren't quite as closely defined as they were in Germany. But the ideas and methods are much the same.

The Irving press also missed the story of how a Saudi bomber dropped its American bombs on a wedding party in Yemen, killing 38 people. But it's okay because – well – because the Saudis wouldn't drop a bomb on a wedding party, and the U.S. would never supply bombs for such a reason unless – well – you know – unless they thought it would bring peace to the world – as it has for Iraq and Libya and Afghanistan and Central America and Vietnam.

In fairness, though, the Irving press did get a big story on the last page of its world news. It's the last story in the section. “Nova Scotia school board bans dances for middle school.” Makes ya stop 'n' think, don't it?

The lead story in Canada&World News for today is that in a certain New Brunswick riding, it's hard to tell who will win the election.
Below it (and rightly so) is a less important story about Obama speaking to the U.N. General Assembly. He says that Syria's Assad has slaughtered tens of thousands of his own people – so that's not a matter of internal affairs. That's why the U.S. is seeking a solution to the war. He concludes, “ cannot turn a lie into truth.”

Now, everybody in that room knew that Obama was lying. Everybody knew that the U.S. had hired, equipped and trained the 'rebels' in that war. Everybody knew that most of 'rebels' were not and still aren't Syrians. Everybody knew that the tens of thousands killed by Syrian troops were invading mercenaries. Everybody knew that the rebellion was collapsing long ago because the hired killers, most of them, ran. Everybody know that ISIS began as another U.S. attempt to defeat Syria with a proxy war – that's the way al Quaeda began, too. So why did Obama lie to an audience that knew he was lying – and when he knew that they knew he was lying?

He was lying because the speech wasn't for U.N. Assembly. It was for the folks back home who are used to believing lies, and accustomed to believing lying and propagandizing news media reports. And they don't want to believe that the biggest and most brutal killers in today's world are – Obama and them with, of course, the support of us. It's not an exaggeration to say that we are reliving the experience of Nazi Germany. And the motive, like Hitler's, is economic power.

Section A local news is less than exciting. We are told of a high mortality rate among prisoners in New Brunswick's jails and prisons. It would have been fascinating – if they hadn't already carried this story in a previous edition. As well, the story is largely made up of quotations from people who aren't telling us much. Reporting means doing a little digging, not just acting as a stenographer. It would be useful to see some legal advice on how this can be handled. As it is, the answers I'm reading are vague, and just dismiss the issue as something to be reviewed – some day – maybe… Perhaps a report could light a fire under the premier. This is not just an issue for relatives of those who die. It's an issue of human rights for prisoners and their families.

The only other item worth reading is on A5. It's about the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking). Well, it would be worth reading if it said something.

It does tell us that the commissioners haven't yet made up their own minds. That doesn't reassure me a whole lot. If they haven't made up their minds on what has been world issue for over twenty years, this must be one, seriously retarded set of commissioners.

Then they say they're going to look at economic benefits, New Brunswick's economic reality, risks, challenges, opportunities, gush, gush… Think about that statement. There should be only two question to answer. 1. Will it harm people? 2. Will it harm the environment? We are going through what appears to be a rapid change in our climate due to the use of fossil fuels. The gas produced by fracking, like the gas produced by any other fossil fuel, contributes to climate change. It is not a 'clean' fuel. The only people who deny that are oil billionaires and village idiots.

So why include economic benefits, New Brunswick's economic reality, risks, challenges, opportunities….in the commission's studies? There can be only one reason. This commission is intended to become a soft-sell for fracking.

We'll be told there are some risks, but the risks are outweighed when you look at the economic benefits and the job creation.

Then, for a little while, there will be economic benefits. But they come at quite a price.

Climate change can kill billions and, in time and not much time, everybody. We've been warned very clearly. And we've been warned we don't have much time to act on those warnings. Oh, I'm sure there are huge profits to be made. But those profits won't last long when so many customers are dying.

To talk about balancing the risks with the profits, opportunities, idiocy. It's like lying on railway tracks on the argument that while it is risky because a train could kill you, it's worth it because you'll get your name in the paper.

I know the task of dealing with climate change is a huge one. I also know there is no choice. We cannot have fossil fuels. We can't. That's it. That also means we can't afford wars because we can't waste money and time on them. To babble about studying economic reality, opportunities is either criminal or stupid.

But there are people who make lots of money out of oil and out of war spending. That's a reality, too.
Norbert writes on the importance of freedom of speech, while admitting that it is also legitimate to criminalize hate speech. Well, one can certainly agree with that. But our governments, helped along by news media like the Irving press and by politicians like Harper, have been talking up fear and hatred for some years now. They've aimed it in particular at Muslims, and they've used it not only to prevent a Muslim woman from becoming a Canadian, and as an excuse for doing almost nothing about refugees, to justify a Canadian gestapo (just like the American one), and for striking down our personal freedoms as citizens.

How come you didn't mention that, Norbert?

The guest commentary is by a think-tanker for Atlantic Institute of Market Studies. Which means he's a propagandist for big business. It's about a privatization of part of the Newfoundlandland Land registry service which, we are assured, would be more efficient than those gucky, old, civil servants.

Quite apart from the obvious bias of the writer, who in Moncton could possibly give a damn who operates the Newfoundland land registry?

Alec Bruce's column is a good one about the role of small entrepreneurs in the New Brunswick economy. But it will generally be seen as a 'three cheers' for capitalists in general. Bruce might have made it clear that there's one hell of a big difference between the behaviour of small entrepreneurs and that of the large capitalists who actually run this province.

I know that big business likes to play games with the Chamber of Commerce to convince us that all capitalists are “good guys”. The reality is that most of the big ones are quite vicious and destructive.

I had trouble with the editorial. It recommends a woman, very active as a feminist throughout her life, for the Order of Moncton. She certainly sounds deserving. But there are people charged with deciding who get this order. And it's no business of the editorialist to intervene in that process. Questioning or endorsing the decision after it's made is certainly admissable. But sticking a foot in the door before the decision is, minimally, in bad taste.

It also has a short paragraph (the second one) which I can't understand. He or she writes that the western world deserves some credit for the feminist movement (Of course it does. I've never heard anyone who questioned that). Then it adds, “the roots of which are nonethless sunk somewhat shallowly in the suffragette movement of the late nineteenth century.” I have no idea why the word 'nonetheless' is in there. And “Somewhat shallowly” ? The suffragette movement was the key to the development of equality for women. It's what gave women the right to vote. That's a clumsy, awkward, wordy sentence that seems to have no meaning at all.

However, just to annoy the editorial writer, I'll offer another key to equality for women – the invention of the typewriter. Before that, all office workers, including secretaries, were men. But capitalists found that men could be expensive – so they looked for a cheaper alternative to men. Thus, about the turn of the century, the invention of the female secretary.

Before that, the only jobs for women were taking in washing, becoming domestic servants, occasional unskilled labour – and really, really cheap teachers, usually at the lower grade levels because they weren't considered to have to intellectual prowess of men.

The prohibition movement was also an important factor in giving women a public voice.        

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sept. 28: Not in a good mood today.

In the U.S., millions are cheering Donald Trump for his asinine platform that would build the world's biggest wall between the U.S. and Mexico. This is in a United States where, like Canada, little has been done to tackle climate change, and almost a quarter of all of the children in the U.S. are living below the poverty line. And Canada's record, while better, lags behind more civilized countries.

(Oh, and on page B1, read how Obama is going to lead the UN in a plan to eliminate poverty and hunger around the world. Perhaps he could start with poverty in the U.S.. You know, set an example.)

As an aside, Americans in poverty who are lucky enough to get food stamps commonly have to cash them, by law, at automatic tellers - thereby paying a fee each time for the little money they get. Why do they have to use an ATM? Well, that's the way the banks like it.

Who can take these politicians seriously? But a great many voters do.

In the Quebec debate, it seems Quebeckers, both French and English, are terribly, terribly concerned that a Muslim woman might be allowed to take the oath of citizenship while wearing a niqab. Of course, Quebec is and always has been a province of bigots – both French and English. That means it's much like the rest of Canada.

But I can be as bigoted as the rest of them. Orthodox Jewish men have huge beards that cover as much as a niqab does. Their religion also requires them to wear hats all the time. I might run for prime minister on a charge that all this shows disrespect; so all Orthodox Jewish men should be forced to shave and to take their hats off when taking the oath of citizenship – or any other formal oath.

This is Canada where we might not be all equal, but we'll damn well all be the same.

In this election, we have some very serious problems. We are in a war in Iraq without the consent of parliament. We have troops in Ukraine. In both cases, we are in great danger of finding ourselves in a world war because of those commitments. But our military has been neglected so Harper can 'balance the budget'. In short, we are talking big – but our military is what will pay the price for Harper's tough talk.

Mulcair is the only one who has announced he would take action on climate change. And he could well lose votes on it.

Alas! The reality is that a high proportion of voters is ignorant of what's happening in this country or anywhere else – thanks largely to our news media. And, in fairness, thanks to bigotries that don't show when we look in mirrors.

I read a comment in today's paper that if we didn't have democracy, then the only people who would be sitting at the table to govern us would be the big corporations. Hey! That's the way it works now. It's worked that way for years – and it has always worked that way in New Brunswick.

We're in for quite a time. As it is, nobody is going to win a majority in this election. If Harper calls the House of Commons to meet, he'll lose the first vote. Then he'll have to go to the Governor-General to present his resignation – and the governor-general will have to go to Mulcair and Trudeau to see if either of them is prepared to become p.m. That can happen only if the two form a coalition of their parties.

But Trudeau will be under tremendous pressure from the wealthy of Canada who finance his party to refuse any coalition except with Harper. I know Trudeau has already said he won't – but who knows?
So, what does Harper do if Trudeau refuses a coalition with him? Simple. He doesn't call the House to meet for several months. Then he calls it, gets defeated in a House vote-----and advises the governor-general to call a new election. Governor-General can refuse – but precedent shows that refusing is dangerous – and this is not a governor-general who is going to do anything dangerous. He's Harper's kinda guy.

He'll call the election – and the only person with piles of money to fight it will be Harper. The Liberals will have much less, and the NDP none at all because corporations don't give money to the NDP.
Recently, the story of how Volkswagen has deliberately lied in reporting its diesels reduce emissions has been big stuff. But there's a much bigger story developing. It's not in the Irving press, of course. But CBC had it. Audi has also been caught cheating with over 2,000,000 of its cars. And they aren't the only ones. And it's not just emissions. Auto companies are cheating. And governments have been pretty slack.


The big news of the day concerns Syria – and the whole world. It didn't make the Irving news, of course. The site below is a source I'm not familiar with. But what it says makes sense.

The U.S. has bungled terribly in the middle east. It's been fighting “terrorism” for almost fifteen years. And it has failed miserably. The “terrorists” are more active and numerous than ever. In fact, the U.S. has paid for, trained and equipped a great many of them. It has created the terrorism it is supposedly fighting.

Result? That whole region and maybe the whole world could be in for a huge change. The U.S. has staked out a claim to rule the world. And it has dug a huge whole for itself. It is now hated and feared in most of the world. And its military, though far the most expensive in the world, has not performed well. It has lost in Vietnam. It has, everywhere except in the news, lost in Iraq. It is losing in Afghanistan and, at best, it's in a stalemate with ISIS.

(I don't understand how such a huge country with such a massive defence budget cannot win against nations that are smaller and much poorer. I suspect it has a good deal to do with tremedous amounts of the defence budget being lost to corruption.)

Putin has consistently outplayed Obama (Nor will a new U.S. government change that.) His entry into the war against ISIS will guarantee a Russian permanent presence in the economics of the middle east.

Now, it seems that China, too, will be playing a role. And Iraq, which has no reason to love the U.S. has signed a shared of intelligence deal with Russia. So we have Russia and China establishing themselves in what has been a playground for American oil billionaires. And we have Iraq and Iran both making nice with Russia.

There's really nothing the U.S. can do about it. We decided way back in the 1940s to create a world government that actually would be powerless. The U.S. decided its foreign policy would be dictated by big business long before that – in fact, way back in 1775.

Now, there are lots of pigeons coming home to roost. What is happening now might change the whole face of the world. (Perhaps that's why the Irving press didn't mention it.)

This could lead to even Israel and Saudi Arabia rethinking their alliance with the U.S. There are no such things as friends between nations.

There's another interestinig story which didn't make the Irving press. It's about the president of Venezuela who was addressing the UN. Living in Venezuela can be dangerous. U.S. special ops are active in cooperating with 'special' troops from Colombia to murder and destabilize in Venezuela. American big business and Venezuelan big business are not happy with the government of Venezuela. It wants to use money to help the poor instead of sensibly giving it to the rich. Latin America is another corner of the American empire that's getting shaky.

That reminds me. I wonder why Harper is so eager to develop 'special ops' in the Canadian military.

As you might guess, there really isn't much to talk about in the Irving press. There's nothing at all in Section A news.

The editorial seems incapable of dealing with any topic unless it's very, very local and, of course, has something to do with making a quick buck. Norbert claims his column is about the Mactaquac Dam. Actually, it's an attack by an obnoxious and grouchy old man on environmentalists.

Steve Malloy and Alec Bruce write decent columns, but both expressing the same point of view and on the same topic. Hello? Hello? Editor? Are you (all) there?

Craig Babstock tells us we shouldn't drive our cars into road workers.

I mentioned a few days ago that a number of European countries face the possibility of break-ups. On B2, there's a story about it. In Spain, secessionist parties have won a majority in a general election in the Catalonia region.

B3 reports that Hilary Clinton has taken a stand against the US drug industry for its gross over-pricing of medication. (Recently, a pill essential to the lives of many people, was raised from $13.50 per pill to $750.00 per pill. It sells in Canada for $5.28.) The whole American health system is riddled with corruption and greed in the privately-owned health system. Remember that when Harper and Gallant propose more privatization of health services “to save “ money. And Norbert will write a column saying it's a great idea.

On the same page, there's the story on Iraq making a deal to share intelligence co-operation with Russia, Iran, and Syria. The world is reshaping itself.

Finally, on B4, there's the story of how Harper pushing Revenue Canada to impose taxes on think-tanks that are left or centrist, but no taxes for those think-tanks that are pimps for big business. The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies springs to mind as being in the latter category.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sept. 27: A turning point in Canadian history - I hope.

In the United States today, 22% of all children live in poverty. And that's a very grudging figure for an even worse situation because poverty is defined as having less than half of what is required to reach basic living standards.

Think that's overstated? Just google  U.S. child poverty rate. Pick a site. Pick any site. 22% is the official figure. Compared to the figures for all of Europe, the U.S. is at the bottom along with Lithuania. Those children and their children for generations will never have a chance.

Canada is somewhat better - but nothing to brag about with 13% of children living below the poverty line.

Then of course there are the even greater numbers of children we have forced below the poverty line with our mining industry and other jolly folks who use the parents and even the children as unspeakably cheap labour in Haiti, Central America, Africa and who ensure that no money is wasted on education or health care for those children.

Dare I suggest, with the pope, that capitalism is anti-Christian? Think of those children. Think of the millions of them. Think of the litter and filth they have to live and breathe in. Think of their homes. Try   to smell them. Think of what it feels like to be ten, and working in a hateful job, knowing you will never have enough to eat or to take a holiday, or to see a doctor or dentist and knowing that this is what the rest of life is going to be. (I remember to this day such a realization that I had when I was sixteen.)

Think of the greed and immorality of people who could create such a situation while treating themselves to fortunes so vast they can never spend all of them. Compare the children of those below the poverty line with those way above them - the ones who, no matter how slow they might be, get   nursed through expensive private schools, are given a job at high pay in one of daddy's companies with guarantees of promotion  in no time at all. And, oh, lots of time and money for nice holidays.

The U.S. spends over 600 billion dollars a year on defence. That's more than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Britain, India and Germany put together. This is for a military that has killed millions, but whose only decisive victory in the last 60 years was over a holiday resort island in the Caribbean. It hasn't been able to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and, in fact, has said it intends to keep thousands of troops in that country beyond 2016. (Only a fool would count Iraq as a victory. For all its slaughter of  civilians and children, we've never been given a reason for that war. And it left a ruined country that will never recover. Indeed, Iraqis have become a major group in the refugee panic.)

In fairness, not all the blame should rest on the military. Much of the reason for that 600 billion dollar defence budget is because the war industry and the government are. both of them, profoundly corrupt.
(Which reminds me - Harper has been saying that he intends to go ahead with buying the very expensive F-18 fighter jet. That seems odd, considering it has been having serious and  unsolved problems. And there are excellent aircraft available on the world market. But I'm sure there's no corruption involved here. I mean, you know, no real corruption. like - nothing one could prove.)

He also wants to expand our special ops. What are special ops? They began as highly trained troops like World War 2 commandos who carried out quick raids. But they have changed over the years. They are now hired killers, very useful in peacetime to be  secretly sent to foreign countries in which capitalism is not respected as much as it should be. The U.S. now has them operating in over a hundred countries all over the world.

Capitalism has always been brutal, self-serving, and murderous.  The great returns from it have always gone to a handful of the very rich. And it's now turning on us. That's why millions in Canada and the U.S. will never have a chance.

I think that's a pretty good description of moral rot as a result of anti-Christian  (and anti any morality) behaviour. I'm just disappointed it took a visit from the pope to hear that. Why haven't we been hearing it from those spongy clerics who write for the faith page - or from the reverend drs. who preach at the Irving Chapel?

And I notice that Harper plans to privatize Canada Post. That's surely odd because we automatically lose money on that deal. As a crown corporation, Canada Post has pretty consistently shown a profit. (The one, recent exception was 2011 when Harper locked out employees.)

Will a privatized Canada Post cost us more? Of course. But, like much of the U.S. Congress, Harper sees capitalism as a religious faith. And anything else is  heresy. That's why he's determined to shut down CBC - and that's why he'll have his eye on medicare - and on public education.

The following, sent to me by a reader, is a good description of what his closure of mail delivert is all about.

Harper is a religious fanatic - and his religion is the Americanism of the Tea Party variety. That is almost certainly why he wants to develop   special ops in our military. Like sending six fighter-bombers to Iraq, special ops would be a good way to kiss up to the White House, and to go to whatever wars it wants us to go to - but to do it on the cheap, and without the need to get parliamentary approval.
I was writing yesterday that what we should look for in a party is not building a local bridge or scrambling for whatever goodie the leader tosses to the crowd. No, and it's not his budget promises.

What we should look for is a sense of what our society is, of what people need to be fully a part of society. There is not a trace of that in Harper or in the federal Conservative party. He's not just a bad choice for Canada. He's a very dangerous one.

The U.S. is heading for a social crash - and sooner rather than later. It's really not a very good model     to imitate.
Finally, the site below, also sent to me by a reader, is about a lesson we should have learned in the 1930s. (In fact, at the time, we did learn it. But newspapers like the Irving press made  sure we forgot it.) Now, as in the 1930s, hard economic times are being used as an excuse to make the richer much richer at the expense of the rest of us.

Today, just as in the 1930s, cutting taxes for the rich will not create prosperity for anybody but the rich. Cutting social services to others will just make life harder for the rest of us. The best book on the subject is a report prepared for the government and published in the depression years. It's called Report of the Royal Commission on Price Spreads and Mass Buying.  Hint - I'm quite sure that neither Harper nor Trudeau has ever read this book.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

When I was a child eating my supper,....

........ (as some children still do - while slumped over the plate), my very Presbyterian mother would say, “Sit up. And eat your supper like a Christian.”

I thought of that as I read two items in today's paper. One, on B4, is about how the pope (a non-Presbyterian) has been urging Americans to deal with climate change, with the stunning levels of pollution all over the world, with the destructiveness of unregulated capitalism, with the massive poverty it has created. And he has been doing it not out of political or economic ideology. He has been doing it out of his understanding of the Christian faith.

But, being still the child I was raised to be, with strict, Protestant views, I turned to C5 the faith page, for a true example of what Christian faith means. And the true message is – ya gotta have good manners. Yep, sitting up straight at the table like a Christian. That's what it's all about. It's about bein' respectable, makin' sure yer fly's zipped, 'n' keepin' all them women wearin' them heejaps or whatever out of this Christian country.

The pope makes us humans look good. The Faith page of the Irving press makes us look like self-righteous asses.
The election news, both in Canada and the U.S., is embarrassing. No serious issues are being discussed in either case. In the U.S., the debates are simply a matter of reporters looking for one-liners from Trump . The other candidates are just as bad. The bottom was hit by one of them (ironically, the only black in the running for the Republican leadership) who said that a Muslim should not be permitted to become president of the U.S. I know just what he means. Personally, I would exclude Muslims, Baptists,,Jehovah Witnesses, blacks, orientals, and anybody who slouches over supper. But I don't think that's a really big issue in this election. Anyway, the American constitution says they're all allowed to run.
In Canada, the situation is much the same. The Quebec debate, largely because of Harper and his good friend, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, spent much time and fervor on the threat to Canada of women who wear veils. (But it's okay to send your daughters to school looking like hookers.) If you agree with Harper,(and many will), look up 'racist' and 'bigot' in your dictionary.
The front page of today's paper offers another example of useless political reporting on the election. It's on “A voter's guide to navigating the 3 different plans for the economy.” A complete waste of time. Not one person in a thousand understands the workings of an economy. And among the 999 who don't know, are business leaders. They know how it can be made to work to benefit them – that's not the understanding we need. We need to know what politicians want to use the economy FOR. Is it to benefit the rich so that some day when they get tired of putting their money into tax havens, they might let some of it trickle down to us? Or is there some party that is interested primarily in us? In the health and education and welfare of our society?
That's the issue. That's the only issue. It's not about whether they're going to build a bridge somewhere, or telling women what they're allowed to wear, or promising to fix a road. If we have reporters who are inquiring (and intelligent and honest), they shouldn't waste their time and our reporting on trivialities. We need to know what values and what priorities they bring to our society as a whole. The economy is important, of course. But it's not the starting point. The starting point is the direction a party sees for where we are going. Then you design an economy to fit that purpose.
I pay no attention to the American debates except as low vaudeville. That's because I know there are no social values on either side. (With the possible exception of Bernie Sanders who isn't on either side.) It really doesn't matter a damn who wins on either side because the real government will be a handful of billionaires.
The debates matter in Canada because our democracy has not sunk as low as the American one has. But this could be our last chance to keep our democracy afloat. The politicians keep the debates trivial because they know that triviality is what the Canadian people expect and want. What that means is the demand for broader scale in political debate has to come from the public.
The editorial? Safe. Brainless. But it shows good manners.
Norbert's column is a useful outline of the problems in either restoring or destroying our hydro-electric damn which provides 20% of our electricity,and uses a renewable resource. Strangely, he says nothing about what we would use to generate power without that dam.
On the Commentary page, Anne Moore (lawyer) has an excellent column on legal aid. Alas, it also has columns by Premier Gallant and Brent Mazerolle that are not excellent.

With the massive suffering of tens of millions of refugees, the only story on them is that Croatia has opened its border with Serbia. There's not a word about the far greater number of refugees still in countries of the middle east, about how Israel refuses to have anything to do with them, about how the countries they are permitted to enter just cannot absorb that number, about how the UN doesn't have enough money to feed them, and how the U.S. and Canada won't give it enough money. (And if they did, they would insist it go through private contractors at retail prices. That tells you a lot about the social values of Canadian and American governments. ) Those people are dying of hunger, of disease in dreadful camps, of exhaustion, of drowning. Oh, but our Christian hearts went out to a three-year old boy who was just one of thousands to drown. But he was so cute!
And all of this is caused by the real spiritual leaders of the west – the super-billionaires.

And, of course, they're not a word about the aerial bombing, the drones, the enforced starvation by Saudi Arabia and the U.S. on Yemen. (Not to mention all the drones operating but not reported in the rest of the world.) If the pope was hoping to reach the Christian world with his message, he was wasting his time with the U.S. houses of congress.
On the good side, B3 has caught up on a several-day-old story that Alexion, a U.S. drug company, is suing Ottawa for limiting the price the scandalously expensive drug it sells in Canada. Wild over-pricing of drugs is common in the U.S., but had been kept under some control in Canada. Capitalism without regulation is disaster for us all. And Harper is preparing to give away our power to regulate. That should be the big issue for this election because if affects our health, even our lives.

The Irving press has been pretty quiet about the Volkswagen diesel scandal. For years, VW has been lying about the level of emissions coming from it diesel cars. It has reported them as extremely low. In fact, they are forty times greater than the law allows.

But beware. There's an error in the story above. It says that VW was unaware of the emissions problem. That's not true. Earlier reports are quite clear. VW deliberately created a lie by using misleading methods in measuring the emissions. And it deliberately reported the lie as fact to foreign governments. And even that isn't the whole story. Most governments are supposed to verify these tests by doing their own testing. In the U.S., the rule is supposed to be that 15% of each type of car gets tested. So how come this went on for years without the U.S. (or Canadian) governments noticing it? The fraud was discovered by scientists working independently of both government and big business.

Then there's the story that some American leaders are accusing the pope of spreading anti-capitalist thoughts. Well, yes. But note the choice of words. They could have said he was criticizing capitalism – or calling for reforms to it. Why didn't they? And note the use of the word 'thoughts'. Why didn't they say 'ideas'? Those are important questions because they suggest that these leaders don't just disagree with the pope. They're calling him a heretic.

That's an old tradition of U.S. political thought. “The pope was spreading anti-capitalist thoughts.” That suggests he's spreading not ideas because 'Ideas' has a sense of newness, of progress. But 'thoughts', well, that conveys a sense of evil, darkness, heresy and worse, unAmericanism.

The last time we heard that sort of language was from Senator McCarthy and his House Committee of unAmerican Activities. Rather like the Bishops who persecuted Joan of Arc, McCarthy was hunting down people who had -oooh – communist thoughts. And that was unAmerican because in America, God was a capitalist. This time, American leaders were accusing the pope of being unAmerican, a heretic because there is no distinction between being American and believing in God and believing in capitalism.

Then, I found this item by Ralph Nader.

The coming election could well define the whole future of this country. For the U.S., I suspect it's already too late. The U.S. has nothing but Harpers in the running.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sometimes, we have to get angry

Let's go quickly through the Irving press.

Section A news is small town boosterism, and village gossip. As for editorial and commentary, only two of the columns have anything to say. Norbert raises questions about District Education Councils. He doesn't have answers – but at least he raises questions that should have been raised a long time ago.

There's also an excellent column by a Law professor at University of Ottawa arguing that Canada should hugely increase its health care spending for refugees. So it should. Quite apart from the obvious requirement of human compassion, we have helped the United States to create this horror so that oil billionaires can get richer.

Oh, I know, we could hold a special service at that temple to Christ, the Irving Chapel. And we could pass around the hat to all those enjoying coffee and fellowship in the barn. And then we could use the collection to send all those refugees subscriptions to the Irving press.

Canada&World has only one story worth reading. It's on B7. “Climate, evolution, shorten bumblebee's tongues”. It seems that climate change has destroyed certain types of flowers that require long tongues to get at the pollen. So the bees have evolved to shorten their tongues to adapt to the flowers that are replacing the old ones.

Of course, the story isn't true. We know that because the oil industry has assured us there is no climate change.

There's a long story on the Pope's visit to Washington. But it doesn't say much. In particular, it goes light on the pope's condemnation of capitalism as anti-Christian. Well, that just goes to show you, doesn't it? Obviously, he's never seen the Christian purity of Irving Oil Ltd.

Then there's the news that wasn't in the Irving press.

In Saudi Arabia, a boy of 17 (and so a minor) may or may not have taken part in a riot. We don't know because the trial was secret. And  no defence lawyers was permitted. Under international law, a person cannot be executed if the killing was committed when he was a minor. (And, I've said, there's no evidence he killed anybody, anyway. His greatest offence may be that his father is a political critic of the King of Saudi Arabia.

But he has been sentenced to death by beheading, and then crucified for public display. This is in the country of our good friends of Saudi Arabia, the same ones the U.S. is supplying with bombs to drop on some of the poorest people in the world and is also helping to starve the others to death. Onward, Christian soldiers….

Even by the standards of capitalism, drug companies rank among the slimiest. Here are some recent cases. From the start, drug companies have claimed they face high costs in developing drugs. For the most part, though, drug companies are liars. They feed off the research done by university teachers – usually at minimal cost or no cost whatever to the drug companies. Lately, we're seeing jumps to price increases like the one of 5,000% in one day – and that for a drug that has no research costs at all because it was developed over sixty years ago.

Often these are drugs essential to save lives, which means some people will have to pay tens of millions of dollars just to stay alive.

The whole industry is a corrupt and corrupting racket. When U.S. drug companies sell drugs as medical aid to suffering countries and it is paid for by the government, they normally demand full retail price for every pill sent.

This is capitalism at its finest. This is what it's all about. Pope Francis is not just talking from a cloud. Capitalism is vicious, selfish and, despite the stories, it does not create jobs. Instead, it imposes poverty all over the world.

Note that all the stories above come from CBC news which has the best and most honest news coverage in North America. That's the one that Harper is eager to destroy.

Note that one of the above companies is suing Canada for trying to lower the cost of a wildly overpriced drug. If you think that's bad, just wait till you see the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership Harper is working on. That will enable any capitalist to sue the government for anything – such as environmental protection, minimum wage laws..... They will be permitted to forever destroy lands and waters as much as they like – just as they are doing in Central America and Africa.

Capitalism has no room for social wellbeing or human life. That's why the world has tens of millions of refugees and millions murdered or orphaned. This is reflected in the site below.

We often think of the past century as being one in which evil forces arose (Naziism, fascism, communism, etc.); and that we fought off those evil forces. That's not really what happened at all.

The two world wars were the products of the collapse of the west European empires, and the maneuvering of U.S. capitalists to replace them. And they have succeeded with the westernized parts of those European empires, parts such as Canada and Australia. Britain, itself, is now a part of the American empire.

Communism was never a factor in all this because it never really existed, anywhere. Both Russia and China tried to establish states in which governments ruled (though without democracy). Both failed. Now, both are capitalist states which are as cruel and greedy as all capitalist states.

The techniques of Hitler in torture, domestic espionage, propaganda and thought control are thriving in Canada and the U.S. today. And, in the same way, our political, business, and journalism leaders win our support by drawing on our bigotry. In reality, there is no difference between Hitler killing Jews and us killing Muslims.

And, if Hitler's Germany had citizenship ceremonies, you can bet that no man would be allowed to wear a yarmulka (skull cap) while reciting the oath.

Freedom and democracy? They're long since gone in the U.S. And they are threatened species in Canada.

Hitler, Mussolini and Emperor Hirohito were not interruptions in what we thought was a rise in democracy and freedom. They were a part of the same process we are living through today. Fascism, Naziism and imperialism with their mass murder, social destruction and gross cruelties are very alive today. The difference is that we call it capitalism. That is why the pope says capitalism is unChristian.

That's why I think he's right.

And that's why I avoid unChristian places like the Irving chapel no matter what its special music might be – even if it's the Irvings playing the service's special music in four-part harmony by farting.    

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sept. 24:The Irving press and the worship of ignorance

For a change, we'll open with----

Forgive me. This is an astonishing site; and it beats anything in the Irving press.

Section A news is deadly. It begins with a nothing statement by premier Gallant – and then goes downhill. Call me a dreamer, but I was hoping city leadership in this burg might show signs of dealing with real issues – civic plans for anticipated emergencies due to climate change, a rational public transit system to replace our present caravans of empty buses – preferably one that does not operate on fossil fuels – some rational plan for the future of housing that rids us of being a city of fire traps, one that is designed for an urban population and not as an endless sprawl of 1950s villages – that sort of thing. But no such luck.

The only story worth reading is on A9. The faculty associations at Saint Thomas University are taking the university to court because it refuses to disclose the salaries, pensions, and other perks for past presidents. Good for the faculty associations.

Presidents are selected by boards of governors that are dominated by business people, and, usually, high level business people. They know close to nothing about education, and operate universities as if they were businesses. And what businesses do is to give absurdly high salaries, high pensions and lots of other goodies to presidents. What's happening should be a major scandal.

Mind you, it might not be a bad idea for faculty associations to investigate professors, many of whom know nothing about teaching, and avoid it as much as possible – preferring to use the university to build their personal glory as intellectuals.

We're paying a lot for universities. And we aren't getting our money's worth.

The editorial fearlessly attacks one of the great issues of our time – the number of sick days permitted for teachers and civil servants.

It says we could save millions if we cut back on their allowance of sick days. Brilliant insight! Now, take it just a step further. Think of how much we could save if we took back the tax breaks (for a tax rate that is already low) and took action on the hidden profits in tax havens.

Discuss this with the editorial staff. I'm sure they would take up the case.

Norbert starts with the useful reminder that we have to weigh individual and collective rights carefully. And he makes good points about this with the issues of vaccination and gun ownership. Then he says we're emerging from the excesses of liberalism in the 1960s.

What liberalism are you talking about, Norbert? And what “small-c” conservatism are you talking about? Liberalism would mean putting an emphasis on individual rights. That is what we are doing now - for the rights of billionaires. In the 1960s, we were doing the opposite (at least a little bit).

And what was excessive in the 1960s, Norbert? Regulations for business? Medicare? Today, says Norbert, we live in an age of selfish entitlement and narcissism so that one can do whatever one wants no matter how harmful, immoral or illegal it might be.

For a start Norbert, every age in history has been one of selfish entitlement and narcism. For centuries such entitlement was the mark of the aristocracy. It's now the mark of the very rich. They expect to be given whole forests, to get low taxes (and to hide from paying even those). They expect us to fight wars for them, to pay the taxes they don't pay, to die if it's good for business.

So who does Norbert pick on as the entitled and narcisstic? He gives hell to doctors who want to defend the health system. Ooooh! Evil. Selfish. Then there's teachers, civil servants, seniors – vicious, all of them. And a woman who thinks public schools should supply basic materials. Vile! All of them lazy, and living off the hard work of honest people.

Norbert, you know damn well who the selfish, entitled and narcisstic people are in this province. But you wouldn't dare say a word about them.

Norbert developed all these brilliant thoughts from reading a book by a psychologist, Stephen Pinker. I know his work only from a book he wrote on the decline of war. I thought it was a crock. Nor do I see why a psychologist should be taken seriously on these topics. There's a note of sensationalism in his writing which leads me to suspect he's one of those academics who write only for personal status and academic glory. ( There are quite a few of them.)

Then there's Rod Allen's column. Mr. Allen likes lobster. See? You can learn that sort of thing only by reading the Irving press.

The guest column is about the lumber industry in British Columbia. I have no idea why.

Alec Bruce contributes a column that doesn't have any clear point except, possibly, as an act of small town boosterism.

The big news on B1 for Canada &World is the leader's debate ( in French). The big issue, it seems, will be about banning Muslim women from wearing the nigab when taking the oath of citizenship. It's normal that national elections are fought on trivial and even brainless issues. That's why so many Americans are cheering for Trump. He is the ultimate brainless candidate - and he knows all about exploiting hatred, fear and bigotry to get votes.

The future of Canada does not depend on whether women will be allowed to wear a veil when taking an oath. But Harper knows that most voters have no idea (thanks to our news media) of what the real issues are. He also knows that anti-Muslim bigotry is especially strong in Quebec.

Mulcair is leading in Quebec. But he has supported the right of Muslim women to wear the nigab at the swearing-in ceremony. So Harper will play to hatred, fear and bigotry to pick up votes in Quebec.

There are two, big stories about the pope's visit to Washington. Neither says anything.

Canada&World is almost entirely Canada and U.S. There's really nothing in it.


The story below also appeared in The Independent. It's about the shamefulness of Harper (and most of us) in doing so little for refugees. We, the U.S. and Britain are the ones who created their misery. And now we'll do the least possible. I don't think Canadians realize how much the rest of the world has developed a contempt for our nation. There was a time when we were taken seriously. Harper has destroyed that.

Then there's another piece of news that wasn't important enough for the Irving press. One candidate, Scott Walker has dropped out of the Republican leadership race. However, one of the corporations that funded him now insists he return that part of their funding he has not spent yet. This money came from the Koch brothers whose vast wealth comes from oil. They also are the ones who sponsored the claim that climate change isn't happenimg. (They still do it.) And how much do they say Walker owes them?

900 million dollars. That's 900 million for just one of the candidates. They will also have paid most of the candidates – and, probably, Hillary Clinton. And that's just for the leadership race – not for the presidency. And it doesn't count the congressmen and senators they've bought. The total will be in the billions.

Why are the Koch brothers so public-spirited? 1. so nothing will be done to fight climate change. 2. So American tax payers will fund their wars to control oil. 3. So they won't have to pay taxes.

Is their anybody in New Brunswick like that? Think hard.

That's why we have thrown away over twenty years that we needed to deal with climate change. That's why we have murdered millions all over the world, and about half of those millions were children.

People like the Koch brothers make Hitler seem like a humanitarian. We can't hide from this. They have made the whole world a slaughterhouse by war, by starvation, by exploitation and, increasingly, they will be destroying us – for profit. This is insanity. But it's real. Don't worry about Muslim terrorists. Worry about the ones most likely to destroy us. They are the real terrorists.

The sight below is a video of Noam Chomsky. He's quite right. There is no real difference between all the Republican candidates. And, I would add, no significant difference between them and the Democrats. (and no difference between them and Harper). It's not too much to say they are all insane. And, for that matter, the billionaires who own them are insane.)

And American democracy is over. Former president Jimmy Carter has recognized this. And he's far from being the only one. We have done nothing significant about climate change. We have killed millions as ruthlessly as any butcher in history has done. We live in fear of others when we are the ones who are terrorizing the world. And all for the greed of a very few.

Americans are living in insanity. And Harper is a face of that insanity. And we don't get that in our news media because the insane own almost all our news media.