Thursday, October 1, 2015

Oct. 1: How bigoted are Canadians?

Canada has a long, long tradition of bigotry. Those on the wrong end of it, like the early Irish immigrants, were been denied decent jobs and pushed into slums. Others, like Ukrainians and Japanese, were pushed into prison camps in whole families and all their property confiscated and sold. Blacks had to live in separate communities, were denied jobs and held in poverty. Chinese were confined in slums called 'Chinatowns'. Jewish refugees from Hitler's Germany weren't allowed into Canada, not even after the war. And now it's the turn of Muslims.

It is perfectly legal in Canada for a Muslim woman to wear a veil or niqab while giving the oath of citizenship. The reason is that for a very religious Muslim woman to remove her full face to a man is the equivalent of going naked. For the same reason, it is illegal at border crossings or airports or prisons to stripsearch a woman in the presence of men.

 If a woman is wearing a niqab, it is a simple matter to have a female official administer the oath. In fact, we've been doing that for years.

Stephen Harper knew all that.  So why did he spend over a quarter-million dollars of our tax-money to take this issue to court? And why is he pursuing it?

The reason is spelled e-l-e-c-t-i-o-n.

Harper knows that Canada is and always has been strong on bigotry, so strong that the bigot vote has often been the deciding factor in federal and provincial elections. He's facing a close election. The bigots can win it for him. The full story is in The Globe.

Last night, I watched news interviews on a U.S. TV channel. The issue was the Russian presence in Syria. And who was chosen to give an impartial view of what was happening? There were two men interviewed. Both have worked with Obama and Bush in planning foreign policy. Both were involved in the decisions to create a rebellion in Syria. Both were advocates of American Exceptionalism – the belief that the U.S. has the right to take military action anywhere in the world. But no other country can do that without U.S. approval. Russia and (possibly) China have called Obama's bluff on that.

Both interviewees were very concerned that the Russians have intervened. But were convinced the U.S. had a right to intervene. Of course they were. That reminded me of an article I read on the decline of the news media. It's below.

As for the Irving press, the silliest, most incompetent and and possibly unethical story I have ever seen is on A8. This one is a keeper, suitable for framing. I don't blame the reporter for this 'story'. The decision to run it – perhaps even the decision to tell the reporter to write the story – was a news editor's.

A new think-tank ranks 80 provincial on premiers the quality of their political leadership. Each then becomes a playing card in a deck, according to his/her ability. Richard Hatfield is ranked high as King of Clubs. David Alward gets to be only a three of spades. It's an 80-card deck to fit all the provincial premiers of Canada in. I have some problems with it.
1. Such a ranking is a huge task which would require a team of very expert historians, statisticians, political scientists, economists-----In fact, it would require hundreds of such people working for years. But we're never told who these researchers were, how many they were, how long their work took, or what qualifications they had.
2. What are their criteria for measuring competence? Well, there seems to be just one – fiscal and economic handling. But fiscal and economic handling may have far less to do with performance than world conditions. As well, premiers are not elected just to handle budgets. They're also elected to deal with – you know – people. As well, many premiers have had little to no say on economic handling. Poor Alward didn't. When Alward was elected, Irving announced in his very own newspapers that he, J.D.Irving, would be managing the budget. And there is every sign that he did just that.

And Alberta premiers got high marks from 1981 for managing budgets. Gee! I wonder if the oil boom had anything to do with that.

3.People, all of us, have bias. It's built into us. Now, I wouldn't dream of suggesting these 'researchers' were biased. But I can't help noticing that the leading premiers were all commended for cutting down on civil service jobs, thus handing out more contracts to private companies. I also can't help noting that Conservative premiers, especially the very, very right-wing ones won 9 of the top 10 spots – and two thirds of the top 20.

As well, we aren't told who the researchers were. We aren't told where the think-tank gets its money from. We aren't told who sits on the board of the think-tank.

This is the most childish and most crude story I have seen in a newspaper, and that includes the papers of the New China News Agency. The very idea of conducting such a study, even with people who know what they're doing, would be laughed out of any gathering of real researchers.

So I checked their website at Aha! Insights inc. Interesting.

The site is very slick. And it seems Insights is a product on an international newswire company which specializes in supplying 'information' to newspapers. In other words, it's a commercial propaganda house.

The thinking for this study was done by people with Ph.D.s That's nice. But there are only two of them, one an economist and the other a policy analyst. It is not possible that just two people, and with those limited qualifications could possibly conduct such a broad and lengthy study. As for the Ph.D.s, we are not told what they are in. It could be in Latin and in Geography. In any case, professors can be bought.

As for a board of governors, there doesn't seem to be one. And I suspect there isn't. This is just a branch office of an advertising racket. And that, I suspect, is where the money comes from.

As well, it lists only two employees – the CEO and the president. This isn't even the usual, intellectually lying 'think-tank'. Why on earth did the Irving press choose to print this?

I don't think it was the reporter's decision. He's an experienced reporter – and even a reporter of limited experience would immediately smell the rat here. No. This came on orders from higher up. Maybe from the owner of Irving press. Maybe from a news editor who thought it would please the boss. Whatever the case, no respectable journalist would ever publish such an obvious piece of lying propaganda as if it were news. It's worse than lying and unethical. It's beneath contempt as journalism.

And I understand the , VP of Irving press who worked his way up the ladder (very quickly) has a master's degree in journalism.  He must have slept through the course on Journalism ethics. 

The only story really worth reading in Section A, is about the threat to dairy farmers posed by the very secret Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership. It is likely to open the doors for foreign dairy products. More important, it was almost certainly reduce our standards for the safety of dairy foods. Removing such standards has been a major factor in these free trade deals.

In fact, it could be a much, much bigger threat to all of us as the deal will make it impossible for us to maintain environmental standards as well. These are deals negotiated by big business and for big business. Typically, they cost jobs, lower wages, and, as in Central America, utterly destroy environments. The deal is scheduled to be wrapped up soon, possibly wihin a week. And Harper is not saying a word about it.

Expect very bad news when you see it.
Opinion and Comment pages are much as normal. The editorial is very, very local – as though what happens in the rest of the world has no effect on us. And it's trivial. A statue I've never noticed needs fixing. Okay. Fix it.

Norbert has a good column about the prison deaths that have been kept secret in the province – the rate seems high. I spent enough time (as a volunteer) in prisons to get a sense of how destructive they are. Just being in one is destructive. I can remember sitting in a roomful of serious offenders, among them a man who wanted to be my friend. They were all stoned because the prison was full of drugs with Christmas coming. The man who wanted to be my friend was a pimp who had murdered one of his girls,, cut up the body with the help of another girl, and put the parts in plastic garbage bags. A week later, one of t he prisoners in that group, at a meeting like mine, killed the instructor by stabbing him with a screwdriver.

And I saw brutal treatment on the other side as when one of my convicts, a mentally disordered man, was put in solitary for a month. A guard took me to see him. The odour was dreadful. He was sitting on the floor eating his own feces.

Yes. We do need to know more about our prisons.

Rod Allan, again, has an irrelevant story about himself told with ponderous wit.

The guest column is a political speech from an MLA.

And Alec Bruce has a good column about the failure of our provincial governments, both Liberal and Conservative, to deal with serious issues in the province.

He's right. The only exception I can think of was Robichaud. (I was interested in him at the time because his son was the friend of one of my students at Concordia.)

I will, with or without Bruce's permission, suggest what we should do next.

1. Do not vote Liberal or Conservative. The biggest problem for this province is that it is controlled by a very wealthy family. It is not at all controlled by the people of this province.

2. The Liberal and Conservatives, almost all of them, have been and still are hacks for that very wealthy family.

3. We need to dump them for a party that will represent us, and will remind the very wealthy family that this is not a medieval fiefdom. Until then, this province is going nowhere.

4. Bruce says, quite rightly, that the Liberals and Conservatives have not spoken with clarity on issues. Well, may I suggest that speaking with clarity has not been a feature of the Irving press, either?
There a story on B1 that the Conservatives are completing a deal (Transpacific Trade) which will, almost certainly, have a tremendous impact on Canada. It's nearly done. And they aren't telling us what they're doing. It's quite possible this will all happen as a fait accompli without any parliamentary debate, and with no public information.

As Mulcair says in the article, Harper is an ideologue. That means he has one economic formula which is gospel truth for the whole world. What happens to people doesn't matter. All that matters is the formula which is designed to serve the very rich. I expect this treaty to be a disaster. But we and whoever our new government is could be stuck with it.

World news is mostly farce. On B2, the U.S. says it concerned that the Russians in Syria appear to be defending Assad. That, says a spokesman, could inflame the civil war.

Like hell it could.

The US created that civil war. It hired, equipped and paid the so-called rebels – who aren't even Syrians. And then it inflamed it worse by recruiting terrorist groups like as al Quaeda and ISIS, supposedly to join the rebels. Everything the U.S. has done has inflamed that “civil war” from day one. The U.S. has created a war which has destroyed Syria, and has gone wildly out of control. It's such a mess now that the wisest move would be for Russia and the U.S. to work together to end it. And, frankly, that fake civil war has so alienated and radicalized Muslims around the world, it's by no means certain that even an alliance would end it. The Bush/Obama/oil billionaire policies have been a disaster.

The U.S. has killed millions of people illegally, often without even bothering to declare war. It routinely kills civilians all over the world with drones But, oh, ya gotta watch them Russians. They ain't sophisticated and freedom-loving like us.

On B3, we are told that France will launch an investigation of war crimes committed by Syria's Assad.
Great idea! It could also examine the war crimes of Israel in Palestine, of the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Guatemala, and may other places. And, while they're at it, they could take a look at war crimes committed by France in French-Indo China and Algeria.

Also on B3 is the story that the U.S. has had to resume active duty in Afghanistan to recapture a city taken by the Taliban. Gee, all those years fighting a small and backward country with the world's most expensive and best-equipped army. And they can't do it. In fact, the only result of all that killing and over a trillion dollars is a very, very corrupt 'democracy' which has become the world's largest supplier of opium.

Sorry to be so late with this. Busy day.

1 comment:

  1. The "new think tank" is Mark Mullins, former Executive Director of the Fraser Institute. In my opinion, he is trying to influence the federal election. From an Ontarian's perspective, Mike Harris was a disaster. The way that the report supposedly measures "success" is laughable.