Friday, September 4, 2015

Sept. 4: A long one. Sorry.

It is now 2:15, and my breakfast copy of the newspaper has still not arrived. I am told it may come at 3 p.m. It will not be delivered to my door in this large building. We we haven't had delivery to the door since December, and never before 11 a.m. or so. Irving press is one hell of a bad newspaper chain from editing and leadership, to bad (and worse) news judgement, all the way to top management. The vice-president is a person who rose from cub reporter to his present position with remarkable speed. It may be because he is the most brilliant news manager in world history. Or it may be because his last name is Irving. (Nah. Can't be that. We all have equal opportunity in this wonderful land.)

The front page sets the tone for the rest of the paper. The big, smashing news of the day is that our premier is going to meet with seniors on Friday. They've been asking for a meeting for weeks. I wonder how long Mr. Irving has to wait for a meeting with the premier. (or, perhaps, how long the premier has to wait for a meeting with Mr. Irving.)

Fans of AC/DC are on their way to Moncton. Who woulda guessed? And there's a photo of three people who are organizing a fund-raiser for support of the families of military and police.

I'd be more impressed ---
1. if families of military and police didn't need charity to survive.
2.if organizations. like “Lest We Forget” would really remember all the veterans and question why they were sent to risk their lives, health and sanity to fight American wars. To remember them is to remember all of them, and to remember our responsibility to make our decisions on whether they should be sent.
3. if the people of Moncton were to demand to know who sent three police armed only with pistols to arrest a man who was known to have at least two rifles.
4. if the people of Moncton were to demand to know where he got those rifles, how available such combat rifles are on the market.
5. if the people of Canada were to demand to know why Harper destroyed almost all records of who owns such guns.

And the rest of section A news is just as informative.
There's a nothing editorial on Resurgo Place. The editorial suggests it will revive downtown and the Main. I have no idea why that should be true.

Norbert writes another commentary on Right to Information from governments. He really has nothing to say except to attack university teachers who do research. I don't know what New Brunswick is like, but in any research I did in Quebec and Ontario, I was almost invariably allowed to go to the shelves and get it. And, if I needed advice, it was no problem to get it. And I was never charged to get it. Such charges could be quite a burden for research-oriented professors – and would be a disaster for graduate students doing research.

I really don't understand why we should require permission to see information about the actions of democratically elected people. Information we can't see should be very exceptional. As a general rule, it should be on the shelves, and we should be allowed to look at it if we want to. (Yes, of course there will be exceptions that might require permission. But there's no need to make exceptions the rule.)

There's a particularly objectionable comment “...much of it is faculty getting the government to do their research for them – free.” No, Norbert. It's government providing a service that is essential – just like parks and sidewalks.
I wonder when Norbert will write a column on Mr. Irving getting something free from the government.

Cole Hobson has an almost childish commentary on how local baseball players do us proud. I liked baseball. I liked playing it. I like watching it. I had a brief acquaintance with the best fastball pitcher I ever saw. It's fun. But why on earth should it make us proud?

He also says team sports are a great way to build relationships and learn life skills. That's bunk. The value of sports to build character, life skills, etc. was an idea invented by the British aristocracy to raise themselves above the working classes. That's why the Olympics were originally intended for amateurs only. It was to keep out the peasantry who could afford to play only if they were paid for it. That's how football became an important university sport – because way back it was amateur and for the “better sort” only. To this day, there are two categories of cricket players in Britain – 'players' and 'gentlemen'.

The guest commentary is on surgical wait times. It's okay – but doesn't say much.

Alec Bruce has a good column on retirement and the coming bulge of baby boom retirees in New Brunswick. He thinks many of us should work past retirement. I think he's right. Retirement is boring. It just turns us into people who sit in a corner and mumble to ourselves.

Canada&World has always been uninformative, but it's become truly awful in the last few months. Perhaps the most gripping story is on B4 “Pope pops out of Vatican to get new glasses”.

On B1, Omar Khadr wants his bail eased so he can visit his family in Toronto. No response yet from Harper. And there may not be one. Harper is a big talker, weak on doing. Khadr should never have been imprisoned. He was fifteen. It is against international law to put a fifteen year old in a military prison. He should never have been tortured. That's against the law, too. Did he kill an American? We don't know. He confessed only to end the torture. And the trial at which he confessed was a purely military tribunal – which operates well below the standards of a criminal court. And if he did kill an American, he was being attacked at the time by Americans who were shooting at him. What would you expect a 15 year old to do? Throw flowers?

Under the law ( and with any decency), Harper should have demanded that Khadr be returned to Canada immediately after he was captured. But there wasn't a peep out of Harper. And when he was released to Canada, Harper should have been him in rehabilitation. Instead, he put him into maximum security. Khadr should have been a free man long ago. But he still isn't. And he's not likely to be as long as Harper is still kissing the American rear end.

(Yes. I know some readers don't like Khadr because he is accused of killing an American soldier. But the law has nothing to do with who we like or dislike. Besides, American soldiers have been known to kill and rape people by the millions.)

B3 has an important but incomplete story about a three-year old refugee boy whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey. His brother died at the same time. The younger one caught world attention in a photo of his body as it lay, lapped by the sea.

Next to it is a story “Harper says beach image heartbreaking, steels resolve to fight ISIL”

Harper is a callous liar – at several levels.
His resolve to fight ISIL amounts to a piddling six fighter-bombers, an insignificant force in the region. And those fighter-bombers are creating refugees just like that boy who washed up on the shore. And, for that matter, they're killing innocent people on the ground. That's unavoidable with aerial attacks.

To make it worse, killing ISIL people will NOT bring peace. Western behaviour over the last century is what created ISIL and what will create worse ISILs if we go on behaving this way. In fact, there seems to have been direct American involvement in the creation of ISIL just as there was in al Quaeda and other 'terrorist' groups.

Harper's 'steel' resolve has nothing to do with fighting terrorism. And it certainly has nothing to do with helping the millions of refugees because Canada has not done a damn thing to help them. The few who do make it to Canada can expect to find themselves, the whole family, committed to prison until their cases can be examined in -----maybe six months, maybe a couple of years. Maybe forever if you're a woman wearing a veil.

Harper's help, or lack of help, for these people is contemptible. This is typical of Harper – the big mouth, and the lack of action unless it's to help billionaires and the American Empire.

And billionaires and the American Empire are really what our air force is fighting to defend in the Middle East. We aren't helping refugees. We're creating them. We aren't there to bring peace because, for a start, no amount of killing is going to bring peace.

We're there to keep control of oil in the hands of western oil billionaires. That is why a 3 year-old washed up on a Turkish shore. That, and and cutting off any Russian oil billionaires from getting into the European market by sending it through Syria, is why tens of millions are fleeing their homes and dying of starvation, exposure, drowning, disease. And Harper knows all of that.

In his commentary, Cole Hobson says our local baseball players do us proud. Perhaps, in some circles, they do – a little bit. But Harper's behaviour and our acceptance of it does not make me proud. And it should make all of us ashamed.

It's possible I know at last one of our pilots in the Middle East. I taught some of them in military history. They were good kids, intensely proud of being Canadian, and intensely proud of heading for a life of service to Canada. It made me proud just to know them.

But I know they never planned to serve billionaires, to kill randomly, to create millions of refugees, to starve innocent people, and to start a three year-old on the voyage that would lead to his body washing up on a Turkish shore. They were made to do it by immoral bastards like Harper and Obama and Bush.

As a footnote to this, it could get a hell of a lot worse. Harper, with his big talk and little action in kissing up to oil billionaires has put us in a terrible spot. We are now committed to two, battle areas that have nothing to do with us. At least, not unless you're earning at least a million dollars a year.

We have forces committed to Ukraine and Iraq. The conflicts there have nothing to with us. Both conflicts were created by U.S. interference. Both benefit only the very rich. There is nothing in it for most Canadians, nothing in it for most Americans. But if things go wrong, and they almost certainly will, Harper has committed us to the greatest and most destructive wars the world has ever seen.

And please don't tell me ISIL is wicked. Think first about the little girl in Vietnam, running and screaming down a road as she was consumed by the flames of American napalm. Think, too, about the millions of dead in Vietnam, Central America, Iraq. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia. Think of the torture cells. Think of the respected psychologists who trained the torturers. Think of countries like Haiti held down in deep poverty and short lives by the U.S. with the help of Canadian 'peacekeepers'.


The Brief, from nbmediacoop for September has a short but compelling story

A nun, Sister Stella Matutina talks about Canadian mining companies in The Philippines who dump their hazardous wastes on the shores and in the waters of the region. There's nothing new about that kind of dumping, or about Canadian mining companies being involved in it.

One of my daughters worked for a time in an African country. The shores were lined with monster dumps of hazardous wastes brought by ships from Europe and North America.

In 1993, Canada sent peacekeepers to Somalia, a country on the Arabian Sea. You should find the official record if you google Veterans' Affairs Canada. (the official record dances around an outstanding event of that peacekeeping – Canadian soldiers tortured, then beat a Somalian teenager to death for no reason.)

Peacekeepers were sent partly because of civil war in Somalia, but also because pirates operating from Somalia were a severe threat to shipping in the Arabian Sea. That's what our news told us. But it never told us why so many Somalians became pirates.

It was because mining companies from around the world were dumping their hazard waste, mountains of it, along the shores and in the sea off Somalia. Farming land was destroyed. The fishery was destroyed. And, for most people, there really wasn't much else in Somalia.

Canadian companies are big in mining all over the world. And they have a long history of polluting, impoverishing, and dumping everywhere they go. People who complain can get killed. And often do. Sister Matutina has been threatened many times. And it's not just threats. 100 activists on her home island have been killed just in the past two years. (But don't worry. No clergy in New Brunswick have ever been threatened. And, as long as they write tweety-bird sermonettes, they're safe.)

Much of the waste dumped in The Phillipines comes from Canadian-owned mines in other parts of the world, including Canada. And the Canadian government is complicit in it, even though the practice is banned by international convention.

And just wait for the Trans-Pacific partnership deal to go through. It will make Canada, itself, a legal dump for hazardous waste.
Then there's an interesting post. It's in a site I treat with caution, but Paul Craig Roberts is extremely well-informed, and I have found his columns thoroughly professional and honest.


And the general lesson from all this?

No society can survive an economic system unless there in (honest) governmental control of it. Invariably, lack of such control leads to unending wars, and dreadful exploitation. That applies to ANY economic system. Capitalists who babble about letting the market decide are really saying “ We will decide.” And the decisions the 'market' makes inevitably end in suffering and killing.

In a democracy, we expect governments to decide. If the decisions are made by “the market”, then we don't have a democracy. That's why we can see the decay of democracy all around us.

We vote for a government because we expect it to make decisions for our well-being. “The Market” doesn't do that. And those people who have come to make “market” decisions have no interest in us – only in profit. And you can see the results of that all around you.


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