Thursday, October 22, 2015

Oct. 22: just a cranky blogger...

The only Irving news from outside North America is a story that Netanyahu has blamed the Palestinians for the Holocaust. He said a Palestinian, Muslim leader who was a Nazi, talked Hitler into murdering the Jews. This tale, as the story tells us, is pure bunk. Hitler had begun murdering Jews at least two years before he even met that Muslim leader. And, when they did meet, there is no record of what they talked about. But this 'news' has spurred on Israeli settlers as they intensify efforts to expel Palestinians from their lands in Palestine so that the settlers can take them.

By the way, Haaretz mentions that Putin and Netanyahu have been strengthening the relationship between Israel and Russia. Of course. There are no such things as friends between nations. After all these years of receiving billions of dollars every year from the U.S. government, Netanyahu now sees a situation developing in which the U.S. presence in the middle east will probably be diminished – and so Russia may be a more valuable partner.

We're seeing the same thing with the Iraq government which is forming closer ties with Russia. We can expect to see it with other countries – like Libya. Look for even more chaos and confusion as the middle east and North Africa try to sort themselves out. The invasion of Iraq by George Bush jr. was the beginning of what now seems certain to be the greatest policy disaster of our time.

But there is so little news of anything in the Irving press, I had to switch to the world press get even news of Canada. The piece below is from The New York Times Via Haaretz and aljazeera.

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

With Anti-Muslim Campaign, Canada Has Its Trump Moment


Montreal — IT is easy to tut-tut the overindulgences of the American right. For Canadians, it is practically a birthright. None of our politicians, many of us would like to believe, would dare invoke the Trumpian galaxy of Mexican rapists, or ponder publicly, as the Republican candidate Ben Carson did, that Europe’s Jews would have fared better against Hitler if only the Third Reich hadn’t instituted gun control.
Yet over the last several weeks of an increasingly caustic election campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canada’s ruling Conservative Party have managed to erase much of our trademark smugness.
Faced with a stalling economy and a corresponding dip in the polls, Mr. Harper had a stroke of luck. The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed his government’s ban on the niqab — the face veil worn as part of the hijab by a small minority of Muslim women — from Canadian citizenship ceremonies.
Rather than accept the ruling, the Conservative government proclaimed its intention to appeal to the Supreme Court, and then took the issue to the hustings. During a recent campaign debate, Mr. Harper declared that he “will never tell my young daughter that a woman should cover her face because she is a woman” — as though his political opponents would do just that, given the chance.
Effectively, Mr. Harper hopes to win his fourth term on Oct. 19 in part by demonizing those few who wear the niqab — and much of Canada’s Muslim population by extension. In one particularly pungent mailing to voters, the Conservative Party suggested that the election of one of Mr. Harper’s opponents would turn the country into a dystopia of high taxes, high unemployment and citizenship ceremonies clogged with covered Muslim faces pledging allegiance to the queen.
The truth is decidedly more banal. Since 2011, all of two women out of 700,000 new citizens have refused to doff their niqab during the ceremony, according to a Radio-Canada report. And those who do wear the niqab must remove it before the ceremony for identification purposes. But nuance and perspective only impede the Conservative narrative.
The campaign has since announced its intention to start a police tip line for “barbaric cultural practices,” so that Canadians can report such things as forced marriages and female genital mutilation. Mr. Harper himself mused that he would seek to forbid federal public servants to wear the niqab.
In this fear-mongering, many see the hand of Lynton Crosby, the Australian political operative who had been advising the Conservatives, according to a campaign spokesman. A veteran of winning campaigns for the former Australian prime minister John Howard and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, Mr. Crosby is known for his use of divisive social issues, if only to spur political apoplexy from political opponents and populist outrage from the masses.
If Mr. Crosby was indeed involved, then his work is done. Both Thomas Mulcair, the New Democratic Party leader, and Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party leader, have called out Mr. Harper for stoking the fears of the voting public. This very voting public, a government poll suggested, is staunchly against the wearing of the niqab, a sentiment that the prime minister has used as a cudgel whenever he speaks about the issue. (A national poll from The Globe and Mail this week had the niqab well down the list of voter concerns.)
But the Conservative Party’s scapegoating of Canadian Muslims dates from well before this campaign. The government first banned the niqab from citizenship ceremonies in 2011, but its directive was successfully challenged by Zunera Ishaq, a former high-school teacher from Pakistan.
More recently, government officials said Syrian refugees would be prioritized, with first dibs given to the country’s religious (read: Christian) minority. Mr. Harper’s own office was found to have personally intervened in the processing of Syrian refugees. Coincidentally or not, Canada has admitted only about 10 percent of the 10,000 the government had promised it would accept.
The foot-dragging is a marked deviation from Canada’s history of accepting refugees fleeing strife. In 1979, the Progressive Conservative government of the time began admitting some additional 50,000 Vietnamese refugees. The comparatively modest number of accepted Syrian refugees has riled some within the Canadian military, with which the Conservative brand (the “Progressive” was lopped off in 2003) is closely associated.
“We’ve got to stop being afraid of our own shadow,” said Rick Hillier, a beloved retired Canadian general who says the country could easily accept 50,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.
Though Mr. Harper’s anti-niqab gambit had some initial success, there are indications it might not ultimately be a winning strategy. The latest poll numbers have the Liberals ahead of the Conservatives for the first time in this campaign. The separatist Parti Québécois tried similar fear-stoking in last year’s Quebec election, but the tactic failed miserably.
And Zunera Ishaq recently recited Canada’s Oath of Citizenship from behind those few square inches of face-covering cloth. This is what progress sounds like in a campaign of fear. ________________________________________________________________________
Still, we have to talk at least a little bit about the Irving press.

Page 1 – there's a big, nothing story about the Oland trial. Why are we getting this trial ever day? Is Denis Oland one of the great minds of our time? Has he made some treasured contribution to our world? Has he been a leading business man? Whether he is guilty or innocent, will that in any way change our lives?
None of the above. He's a lesser member of a rich family and that family is known only because its name is on beer bottles. He's an irrelevant person. This sort of news coverage is cheap sensationalism.
Oh, the first page headline is about a former CEO in our health system who got fired. The reason given is that he was doing a very bad job, and disregarding all instructions. And, here's the clincher. He had not expected to get fired. So he wants $1.2 million.
I can understand his concern. Of course, ordinary people get fired every day. And many, I'm sure, are surprised. But they don't get to take it to court. They can't afford the lawyers. And no court would be likely to take it seriously. But it's different among the better sort of people who become CEOs. They are allowed privileges they would never give to their employees.
Remember the CEO who recently rigged Volkswagen diesels to hide their breaking of emissions laws? He broke the law. He did it for years. He broke the law; and he defrauded, and he possibly threatened the health of people all over the world. But he didn't get arrested. He didn't get fined. He didn't even get fired. He was permitted to resign, and to receive compensation somewhere in the range of $90,000,000.
That's so much more genteel. But it would be wasted on the working class.
Norbert writes on how the new, Liberal government should benefit New Brunswick – but it's still up to us to make sacrifices in our government services to survive. Well said, sir. However, may I suggest there is a way out of our economic plight?
Justin Trudeau could use our domestic spies – the ones who report on our phone calls, political views, etc. - and turn the spies loose on tax havens to find out which Canadian have untaxed money safely hidden away. After all, Trudeau's promise to raise their taxes won't help if they just go on evading them, anyway.
There are two ways to solve the government's lack of money. One is to starve the hungry, ignore the needy, gut education….. The other is to make the very rich pay their taxes – and maybe even fine them for not paying taxes.
Dominic Leblanc could raise this question when he meets Mr. Irving which will, I suspect, be one of his first duties. (The party's bank account will be low after the long, election campaign.)
Rod Allen contributes his usual thoughtful insight on major world issues. This time, it's about the high fees for the use of public toilets in Belgium. Allen must be a howl at a party.
There's a guest column to say that the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is good for our dairy industry. Maybe. But that's nowhere close to being the major issue in that deal.
And Alec Bruce seems to have written a column that avoids saying anything.
The only story worth reading in section A is the one about Netanyahu blaming Palestinians for the Holocaust.
In the whole paper, the only column worth reading is on C2. It's by Aurelie Pare, a student columnist who specializes in health issues.
For the most varied and thoughtful opinions I've seen on the Canadian election, check the site below. Or google – and read all of them.

My own feeling is that the election was a return to the past. We have avoided disaster. But that's all we've done. What should have been major issues were never even discussed. And that's the fault of all the parties. It's the fault, too, of news media that keep us in ignorance. And it's the fault of the Canadian people for allowing this.

We need far more information than we're getting. Some points the Irving press isn't covering….What are conditions like for mining in Latin America and, say Congo? (They're unspeakable, brutal, killing…) And who are the Canadian investors who are making this possible?
What's happening to the Yuan – China's unit of currency? China seems to be attempting to make it the world standard currency for international trade. That would, overnight, reduce the American dollar to wallpaper, creating mass poverty in the U.S. And it could be very, very unhealthy for Canada.
Trudeau has recalled our fighter bombers from Iraq. Why? Why did we send them in the first place? And why did our news media largely ignore them while they were there? This seems a repeat of the experience in Afghanistan.
Obama has warned Iraq it cannot be friends with both the U.S. and Russia. (I suspect Iraq would prefer not to be friends with either of them.) But I've seen no news analysis of this.
The International Monetary Fund has warned that Saudi Arabia could go broke within five years. Part of the reason is that its oil reserves are declining. Part is because of the low price of oil. And part is the expense of the war with Yemen. The Irving press has no mention of the IMF report, nothing on the consequences for us, and we've never even been told why Saudi Arabia is fighting Yemen - or why the U.S. is helping it.
We know the U.S. has far, far the biggest defence budget in the world. But it has been very reluctant to use anything but bombers against ISIS. Why? And while it can't back out of Afghanistan, it can't beat the Taliban, either. Why?
We live in a world that is changing very, very rapidly. There is enormous confusion both economic and military. But most of our news media give us little information about what is happening – and almost none about why it is happening. And the Canadian election? It was not the return, as one newspaper had it, to King Arthur and the age of Camelot.
It rejected Harper. But it did not herald a new Canada. It simply returned us (for a little while) to the Canada just before Harper. It was not a move into the future. It was just a rejection of the recent past.
It's not just the Conservative party that has to rethink what it's about. It's all of the parties.

And it's all of the Canadian people. And we've seen no sign of that.

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