Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Oct. 21: sigh.

In the confusion of the past few days, I forgot to mention two, excellent commentaries in the Irving press by Jerrica Naugler (Oct. 19, C3) and Jana Giles (Oct. 20, C2). Both are high school students. Both are thoughtful and thought-provoking. Both produce real commentaries rather that the casual or pompous or irrelevant waste-of-spacers that are so typical of the Irving press staff.

For Oct. 21, a big, need-to-know story is that people in Moncton are obeying garbage disposal regulations.

The editorialist has nothing to say. Too bad, Trudeau's phone call to tell Obama that Canada would be pulling its aircraft out of the “war against terrorism” in Iraq was a sound decision – and rather more important than an editorial about “bearing the torch”. 

What torch? We seem to be slipping into the American practice of reserving high political office for the offspring of those who have held it before. I'm not sure that's a healthy sign.

Norbert makes the point that Canadians are, traditionally, largely centrist. Norbert, all that means is that we vote for parties whose practices have not much changed since 1867. Now, as then, the Conservative and Liberal parties are essentially agents of big money.

But the world has changed a lot since 1867. In fact, it's changed a lot just in the last generation or so. Running a country to benefit only the wealthy was never a good idea; but it's now actually causing the breakdown of whole societies.

And war doesn't work any more. Even a country with the massive defence budget of the U.S. probably cannot defeat either Russia or China in a conventional war – and nobody can defeat anybody in a nuclear one.

We need to rethink our whole international system. We need to do what we said we were doing with the founding of the UN. But we didn't do it. Instead, we just deliberately wrecked the U.N.

We need to consider international economic relations. To leave the real power in the hands of the very wealthy few has never worked very well. Capitalism's worship of competition has always been destructive, and it has never fitted into any sort of democracy. Now, the consequences of big capitalism being allowed to run unrestrained  could be, at best, violent and unspeakably abusive - at worst, fatal for all of us.

And we've just completed an election in which none of these serious questions was in anybody's platform – with the exception of the Greens. There is no virtue in being a centrist when the centrists are off the point.

Brian Cormier should read the student commentaries, and learn what a commentary is.

Alec Bruce is cautious – and so he says nothing. That leaves us with a guest column as the only item in section A worth reading. It's about the impact of poverty on children, a topic that has received little attention from any Canadian government. This is an important column.

The lead story for the section on Canada and the whole, wide world is the Oland trial. There's another story about it on p. B2.

There are no stories about events that could be the biggest game-changers of our age. In one, Russia has thrown down the glove to the US. American billionaires will not be permitted to control the middle east. They will have to share control with Russian billionaires. This is the result of 15 years of aggression, bullying and killing by the U.S. - 15 years whose only achievement has been to make the U.S. detested throughout the region. Watch for Iraq to switch its allegiance to Russia and China. Watch for Iran to be much less fearful of American power.

And the U.S., for all its tough language and its monster 'defence' budget does not seem to be in a position to get tough with Russia and/or China. To make the situation worse, U.S. policy has created such instability in the region and such confused, overlapping, and sometimes contradictory wars involving Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Libya it is often impossible to tell which side anybody is on.

American policy has been dictated in the interest solely of its oil industry. All that has resulted in is mass murder, malnutrition, impoverished refugees, sectarian wars and wars within wars. (And all of this is really more important than even the Oland trial.)

Section B4 mentions that China's Xi has been welcomed to Britain by the Queen. And there's a mention that some British are worried about China's human rights record. Xi might be worried less about that than many British might think. Britain was responsible for over a century of destruction, killing, imposed starvation, looting, forced purchasing of opium in China, not mention the millions who died of starvation as a result of the destruction of the old China.…… (Nor do the U.S. and Canada have much to brag about in that area. Where is the big effort to help native peoples? What about our use of domestic spies? What about the right of the U.S. president to order the killing or imprisonment of any American without charge or trial? What about the U.S. record of illegal wars and mass killing?)

Xi's visit to Britain is a sharp reminder that the days of western empire, 75 years gone in Europe, and crumbling today in the U.S., are over. We need some very serious thinking of how to re-organize our world in the face of that change.

Instead ( and unmentioned in the Irving press), the U.S. is organizing war exercises for its navy, partly in waters claimed by China.

Oh, I know, China's claim is based on artificial islands it built in those waters. Now think really hard. How far is Hawaii from the U.S. mainland? And when did the native people of Hawaii vote to join the U.S.? These naval “war exercises” are an old, imperial game. And it's a game whose time has passed.

B5 has a story on the violence sweeping Israel – especially Jerusalem. Too bad it's a story that gives only the Israeli point of view. How many stories have we seen in the Irving press about conditions in Palestine? About Israeli control of life for Palestinians? About officials at the highest level in Israel who are as brutal and racist as Hitler ever was? About a government whose only reaction to the violence has been to respond with violence?

Israelis are not the helpless victims of this violence. It is the product of decades of abuse of Palestinians. It is the product of a Judaism that has become profoundly racist. It is the product of an Israel whose soldiers kill Palestinian children for throwing rocks, but did nothing to an Israeli mob that lynched an innocent man who had the misfortune to look as though he might be a Palestinian.

This is the sort of behaviour that creates groups like ISIS.
As a footnote to all this, I wonder that the Irving press made no comment about the Jewish vote in the Canadian election. Harper went to great lengths to get that vote. He did it by defending Israel against all criticism. So I checked a key riding for the Jewish vote in Montreal. A man I know was the Conservative candidate in that riding. He is an ardent Zionist. He lost. I haven't had time to check other Jewish ridings in Canada. But this suggests to me that in Canada, as in the U.S., a great many Jews have become critical of Israel. Many of them were and remain believers in a Jewish state. But they are not pleased with the behaviour of Israel.

I routinely check a site called Information Clearing House. I don't entirely trust its news sources but, in comparison to our mainstream news in the western world, it's brilliant. The top left-hand corner has a black rectangle which has a daily list of people killed by U.S. police. But it's not possible to read it because it vanishes almost immediately.

Information Clearing House has always had trouble from the various espionage and sabotage groups in the government of the freedom-loving USA.

A reader sent me the site below – I don't doubt that Putin is a very tough guy, quite capable of being ruthless. But we Canadians forget that we have a neighbour with an extraordinary record of killing, torture, illegal invasions, imposed starvation – and we Canadians have taken a part in all this. Remember the records of George Bush, Obama, Tony Blair… But our press is almost never critical of these people – just those on the other side. So here, thanks to a reader, is a more balanced look at Putin.

The same reader, bless his heart, also sent me this disturbing story. A British court has ruled that is legal for police to spy on members of parliament. It's worth reading this to understand why this is a serious matter.

Canada, incidentally, has been spying on Members of Parliament ( as well as the rest of us) for at least 70 years.

There's also the largely untold story on drone strikes. Recent leaks from U.S. documents show that the majority of those killed by drone strikes are innocent people. Yet these happen almost every day in many parts of the world. They are assassinations ordered by the president, acts of war without any justification for war and without any legal reason for it. Those ordered for assassination can be Americans or citizens of any country, names selected by the president and his advisors for death without charge or trial. This is what, in the 1930s, was called Murder Incorporated – a criminal organization in the U.S. that hired itself out for killings.

There's also evidence from American sources that drones are ineffective except in creating even greater hatred for the U.S. And this is the country that criticizes Putin for being brutal – and Xi for not recognizing human rights.

The easiest way to get stories on this is to google al Jazeera drones Almost all the information comes from leaked American documents.

Oh, The Guardian (UK) has the story that Trudeau is cancelling Canadian bombing of Iraq and Syria. The Irving press seems to have been unaware of it. The only big, world story the Irving press has is that some witnesses at the Oland trial heard noises in the night.

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