Sunday, October 11, 2015

Oct. 11: First, a few items the Irvinig press missed....

The Irving press has given us virtually no analysis on the federal election. Of course not. They have nobody who's capable of doing it. All they can do if is carry daily reports of New Brunswick ridings - and, at that, they tell us nothing. So here's a review of the platforms by a reporter who knows what he's taking about. He's covered Ottawa for the CBC for decades and now, in retirement, still does it superbly.

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/karl-nerenberg/2015/10/banish-pundits-and-polls-thanksgiving-election-conversations#.VhmgqknFx00.gmail

And here's al Jazeera's American news. Note, in particular, its story of the Lac Megantic disaster which explains it far better than the Irving press ever has - and which points out that the people of Megantic will be getting much less than might be expected.  Alas! Nobody has yet seriously looked at what we need to do to prevent such accidents in future.

And it still leaves me wondering. Why are corporations suspected of criminal behaviour allowed to buy their way out of facing charges? We don't we allow drunk drivers to do it. Or rapists. Or even shoplifters.

Then there's this story from Haaretz that gives some sense of the escalating violence in Israel. The cause is  not simply hatred. On the Israeli side, it comes from a government attitude that Palestinians, including those who are citizens of Israel, are an inferior and contemptible race - which is exactly what Germany (and Canada and the U.S.) thought of Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. And Israel wants all of Palestine to become part of Israel - without all those racial inferiors. Palestinian rioting comes more out of hopelessness than out of hatred.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.679793

Then there's the story of how the US plan to train and equip 'moderate' Syrian rebels has collapsed. Designed to produce over 5,000 fighters, it has produced only 60 - and many of them have gone over, with their equipment, to ISIS. And that's at a cost of $10,000,000 per trained rebel. That result does not suggest to me that the people of Syria are all against Assad.  And,   even if they don't like him, they even more don't like the 'rebels' and their American friends.

http://dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Oct-10/318367-us-to-supply-arms-gear-to-vetted-rebel-chiefs.ashx

Then there's an intriguing (and very balanced) story about anti-Muslim feelings in the U.S. It's from the Christian Science Monitor, and it mentions how these hatreds are encouraged by politicians. Gee! Just like Canada.

Luckily, and unlike anything I've seen on the Faith page of the Irving press, there are some U.S. churches that are openly speaking and acting in defence of Muslims.

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2015/1010/Anti-Muslim-protests-span-US-How-mosques-are-responding

Then there's the story that I lost the source for - though I've seen it often enough. Turkey has been invading Iraqi airspace to bomb Kurds. Yes, that's the same Turkey that was so inflamed when Russian jets flew over its airspace. And in that case, the western press was indignant at Russia's behaviour. Terrible, terrible, terrible what those Russians do. Then Turkey invades somebody's airspace and actually bombs people. And it doesn't even make most western news.

Well, Turkey was just bombing Kurds. And that's okay because Winston Churchill said it was okay to bomb Kurds back in 1920. It was one of the world's first strategic uses of terror bombing.

Finally, here's a page of The Guardian (the one in Britain, not the one in PEI) just to see what a good newspaper looks like. Two things are important to notice. One is that the US had another mass shooting the same day as the recent one in Oregon. It was the 1,000th mass shooting in the U.S. since the one in Sandy Hook - which was not all that long ago. Doesn't that suggest a problem?

Oh at the top of the page is a picture of a professor at Queen's University in Kingston who has received the Nobel Prize for Physics. Of course. All us Queen's grads are natural Nobel Prize material. (Don't know what's holding mine up. Probably jealously.)

http://www.theguardian.com/world.
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There's something I'm surprised that no news medium has commented on. We all make a great fuss about helping refugees, feeding the starving....  Few do much about it. But we at least make a fuss.
So why is there no fuss over Greece?

The people of Greece have been condemned to lifetime after lifetime of poverty and hopelessness. That includes the children, some of whom look as cute as the Syrian boy who washed up on a Turkish beach.

Yes, I know the national debt held by bankers is high. But that wasn't done by the Greek people. Nobody seems to care about looking to see how this disaster  happened. Obviously, it didn't go to the Greek people. If it  had, they'd all be living high on the hog now, just like the billionaire bankers and capitalists who have taken control and ownership of the whole country.

When did people become so unimportant that what happens to them doesn't matter? They can die of malnutrition, of lack of medical care, of life spent in poverty. And it's okay. The important thing is that billionaire capitalists (who don't have to worry a whole lot about getting adequate food, medical care, education, opportunity) must get their money back -NOW.

When did we become a society in which money is more important than human life?

Well, I guess we've been that way forever. The difference today, I think, is that greed has become a virtue, and poverty a sign of weak character - and the attack on the unwealthy is now being mobilized on a world-wide basis.

New Brunswick (and Canada) are not governed for the people. For samples of that, read any copy of the Irving press. The editorials, the commentaries, the major stories are rarely about what people need.  They're about making money - the blockbuster big deal that will just pour cash over us (or some of us). The $100 million plus 'events' centre springs to mind.

For the federal election, the centre of interest has been the economy. What about the people? What is it they need? Oh, there are bits and pieces in the platforms. But no much.

This was the thinking through most of the depression of the 1930s. Most politicians saw no problem with the vile conditions so many Canadians had to survive in. No. The big issue was not what the depression did to people, and what had to be done to help people. Instead, we let the rich lower salaries to five dollars a week and less, and let the rich pile up more money than they had ever seen before. Working conditions became vile and dangerous, paid holidays disappeared. the sick - well - they just died.

The theory behind it all was that if you allowed the rich to pile up money, they would invest it here and we would all get rich. It didn't work. We've been doing the same thing now - and it still doesn't work. It has never worked. It never will work. But we'll keep doing it because that's the way the rich want it.

New Brunswick has serious people problems - illiteracy, bad housing, sometimes no housing, inadequate care for the elderly, schools that are not equipped to deal with some major problems of education, universities that are out of reach for most, hospitals that are underfunded, and it's culturally primitive unless you really, really like listening to loud music by screaming singers wearing flashing lights while you gulp beer on a mountainside and look for women to molest .....  But what's our first priority? A new hockey rink. Yea. It will bring millions of people to Moncton. It'll make profits for hotels and restaurants, and all that money will trickle down to us. Yes. It will.

No. It won't. It never has.

Yes. I know we need money. But you don't start with money. You start with people, and with what they need. Before you can use money effectively, you have to know what it is you want the money for. Otherwise, the things you really want and really need won't happen.

That's why the Trans-Pacific Trade Deal will be a disaster. It's a deal designed by people who believe that greed is the great, human motive. And it's designed with the advice of the people who live by greed.

What's happening is that the greedy  are taking control of the whole world. The concept of free trade did not come from Brian Mulroney. He spent his whole life as a bootlicker for the greedy.  (and he was well-rewarded for it.) Free trade was designed to make the average Canadian and American poorer by letting the greedy shift their operations to countries where cheap labour could be exploited and abused - and, when necessary, murdered. As a side-benefit, it would weaken unions, making it more possible for employers to exploit Canadians and Americans.

The big bankers and other capitalists have destroyed Greece. And, though our news media haven't noticed it, they've driven Ukraine into abject poverty. Spain is a possible next target. So is Ireland.
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Finally, I get uneasy when people like Harper talk about Canadian "values" or Canadian culture.

It was on the basis of "values" and "culture" that Canada and the US refused to accept  German-Jewish refugees from the 1930s to 1948. The Quebec separatist movement in Quebec was and is based on the notion that Quebecois had a "culture" to protect.  ( Apparently, us anglos didn't have a culture or any values).

And you know what? After 40 years of fevered research and debate, nobody has ever defined what the Quebecois culture is.

I live in New Brunswick. Does that mean I have the same culture as Mr. Irving? Are our lives and our thinking identical? Does a factory worker have the same culture as a lawyer? Do women have the same culture as men?   (And, if so, what are they complaining about?) Do New Brunswick Catholics have the same culture and values as our local Protestants? Our Jews? Our atheists?

One can certainly preserve traditions - which is what Acadians are doing. But they aren't preserving a culture because culture is how you react to the world around you. It changes. So you change too. Acadians preserve the record and traditions of their ancestors. But they don't try to live or act exactly like them. Of course not. They don't live in the world of their ancestors.

Nobody has ever defined a culture. That's partly because their is no such thing as a culture that fully applies to any people, not even ones in the same family. And, in any case,  our own cultures are always changing.

Harper's use of "values" shows the same ignorance as those who babble about culture. Is it a value that Canadian women must show all of their faces? In fact, there were many points in our history in which Canadian women covered their faces. Some nuns did. Women in mourning often did.

It was once a Canadian value that women could not swim because swimming revealed the body. As late as the 1920s, police patrolled beaches with measuring tapes to ensure that women's bathing suits were within three inches of their knees. In the 1960s, Montreal police were measuring women on the streets to make their shorts were long enough. These were all Canadian values.

Until the 1920s, it was understood across Canada that women were inferior to men. Until recently, Canadian women wore hats to church. Men took them off. That's because woman's hair was a snare and a delusion, but man's hair was a glory unto God.

When I was ten or so, I went to Sunday school. As I entered the church, I saw my parents lined up with the choir. They looked at me with  horror. They were still furious after church.

"Why aren't you wearing a necktie?"

It seems it was a Canadian value.

Don't waste time with people who talk about values and cultures. They almost certainly have no idea what they're talking about. And when a politician uses either word to describe Jews or Muslims or any other religious groups, you can be sure he or she is doing it to stir up hatred and fear - and to  use those emotions against you. That's especially true of Harper.

Yes, I have elements of my own culture and values that differ from those of Jews and Muslims - and you. And you have differences from whoever is sitting across the table from you. We also have some values and culture that are quite similar to Jews and Muslims. And we all have values and cultural beliefs that differ from others who look just like us.

Other values and cultures don't threaten us. They enrich us. Though I grew up surrounded by anti-semitism, I have come to realize that most of my most cherished values came to me from Jews. I would expect to have the same experience with Muslims.

I can only hope I don't become enchanted by the values of a rich, North American Christian like Donald Trump or George Bush.

































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