Often, I wonder why the Irving press bothers to print a paper. The best part is a comic strip on C10, “The Grizzwells”. It's worth looking also at “Blondie” because, I think, it is the oldest continuously published comic strip in the world. For almost a hundred years, it's been repeating the same jokes over and over.
The lead story is about a law suit against the city, and concerns the accidental killing of a woman by a bus some four years ago. This is about the first day of the hearing, and has nothing in it that could be called news. Why is this the big item of the day?
Then there's another sad story about the closing of a rural school. We know, already. We know it's sad. We've had three days of essentially the same story. And tomorrow, the last of the series will be another sad story on the same subject.
What will encourage this province to stop moaning, and to start discussing answers for the problem? C3 has a similar story on literacy rates among children in school. This is scarcely a flash. Apparently, some people in the Department of Education are thinking about it. But the article doesn't tell us what they're thinking.
Try this. The problem does not start with the children or the schools. When you have a province in which half the population is functionally illiterate, the problem starts with the whole population, children and adults.
Generally, this is not a province in which intellectual activity is easily found. Look at the faith page for what the churches are doing – guzzling coffee and eating pancakes. We have governments at all levels which see cultural activities purely in terms of making money for hotels and restaurants. We have newspapers that could put an insomniac to sleep. We have no tradition whatever of open, public discussion. And, I suspect, New Brunswickers are afraid to speak openly and publicly. Almost all radio is brainless, and there seems to have been no thought to using it to stimulate thinking. It can be done. It's called public radio.
And, oh, where the hell are the universities on all this?
And why isn't the newspaper asking these questions? Why is it just rolling in an ecstasy of sob stories?
There are only two, real news stories in Section A. The first, on page 1, is that the Legion is desperately short of volunteers to sell poppies in the next two weeks. Veterans, and their immediate families are themselves dying out. But, for the survivors, the need is still there. I remember, with gratitude, the Legion's help for my father in his last months. The Legions suggests you call your local branch to offer to help sell poppies. Sounds like a good idea.
The other story, on A7, is that Moncton's only downtown soup kitchen may have to close for lack of funds. While I admire the volunteers and donors who have kept this soup kitchen going, I have long thought there is something wrong with a society that relies on volunteers and donors to feed those who otherwise go hungry. Societies that do that (which means almost all societies) are not primitive because primitive societies are often societies which care for those who need care. Our 'civilized' society is more like the animal world.
The editorial is the usual, small-town boosterism.
Norbert goes rather over the top in attacking the World Health Organization for its warning about eating processed meats. The WHO is not really an evil mob. But Norbert's point that it handled the announcement badly seems a reasonable one.
There's also a good column on why Canada needs better care for vulnerable children. This is a topic the paper should pursue with a look at the situation in this province.
Canada&World has another big story on the saga of the Oland trial. And the big flash is – there is no evidence that Denis Oland owned a drywall hammer. It takes half a page to tell us that.
The same page has a warning from the CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce who says we have to develop the Energy East Pipeline and oil development very, very quickly because we can make big money out of this. And he's right. If we don't pump up our oil sales right away, we could lose our chance to destroy the planet. There's another story on the next page of the CEO saying nothing at all.
Similarly, there are two, big stories about the whale-watching boat that sank off the BC coast. The first one, which takes up a quarter of a page, tells us that one of the victims had a daughter in Ontario. Wow!
Then there's a big story about the Harper family moving back to Alberta and, beside it, another big one about some argument over naming an airport after Harper.
The last page has big photos of people nobody knows holding up giant cheques.
There is almost no foreign news in this paper. But foreign news profoundly affects us. We have to know what is happening. We have to get analysis of it. We have to understand it. But there is nothing like this in this newspaper.
We shall, I hope, be buying poppies for Nov. 11 in memory of Canadians we sent out to risk their lives and, a great many of them, to die. At the time, we knew little to nothing of why we were sending them. (Yes, I know they were told it was to make all people equal, etc.) The reality is we haven't done it. And it was never intended to do that. But the average Canadian soldier in World War Two had a grade nine education, far too little to understand what any war is about.
Older Canadians and better educated Canadians and news media (not to mention politicians) had a responsibility to tell them what it was about. We didn't. And we still don't. Most recently, we've sent our military to Afghanistan and Iraq – along with some posted to the danger zone of Ukraine. But none of us, even today, have been told why we sent them. Remember them on Nov. 11. Remember what we owe them. And remember what we owe to those yet to come.
Most notably missing is the story about the U.S. navy's taunting of China by sailing into waters claimed by China. Maybe the Chinese claim is unreasonable. I don't know. But I do know…..
1. The U.S. is not the one to decide this issue. I know American governments feel they have the right (American Exceptionalism) to intervene in any issue anywhere in the world. But we have a world body to do that. It's called the U.N. ( You don't trust the U.N, to make the right decision? What makes you think the U.S. will? It killed millions in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria. It has destabilized, created poverty, set up dictatorships all over the world. I don't see where all this has made this a better world.)
2. The U.S. routinely claims territorial waters on questionable grounds. It has, for decades, defied Canadian claims to the Northwest Passage by deliberately sending ships through it WITHOUT asking Canadian permission. It has frequently invaded territorial waters of countries it was illegally attacking. Yemen is a current example. Funny how none of this ever makes the Irving press.
What right did the U.S. have to claim Hawaii and its waters?
3. This intrusion into waters claimed by China is, indeed, a very high risk operation. Not only is China big enough to use force (and have nuclear weapons), but western bullying touches a very sensitive spot in Chinese thinking. For well over a century, China – for all its size and because of its size – was profoundly humiliated by the West's destruction of its society, imposition of monstrous economic demands, killing and/or starving to death of millions, imposition of opium. It's a deep humiliation that is still felt.
But now China can hit back. Bullying is not a wise approach.
There is every sign the U.S. is preparing a war against China. That's why it's encouraging Japan to re-arm. Most of the American fleet is designed to serve in the vast spaces of the Pacific. What use does it have for such a large and powerful fleet for use in the Pacific? The Chinese know – even if our news media don't. (In fact, the U.S. began planning a fleet primarily for use in the Pacific in the 1920s. Then, the intended target was Japan. But now the Japanese and American fleets are being integrated. I think China has probably noticed that. And China is not likely to allow itself to be taken back to the years of western intrusion.)
There's an equally dangerous situation (largely ignored by the Irving press) shaping up in Syria. The U.S. is preparing to send in its own troops and, presumably, aircraft. That means Russians, Iranians and the U.S. all fighting in the same region. The risk of an incident is very high.
As well, the U.S. has given the excuse that Russia is fighting just the American allies who are the “moderates” it calls “rebels”. (If we had better news media, we would know these are neither moderate nor rebels). It says Russia is not fighting the real enemy, ISIS.
Actually, it has been fighting both the “rebels” and ISIS. It's vitally important for Russia to destroy ISIS because ISIS could well become a serious problem in Russia, itself. The writer of the site below has excellent credentials. They are shown at the end of his column.
Haaretz has a columnist with an interesting take on the rise of two candidates in the race for leadership of the U.S. Republican party – Donald Trump and Ben Carson (a distinguished medical doctor). Both are, by any measure, nutbars and dangerous ones. But they are leading in public support. They're doing it by playing on fears and saying they stand for nice things and, in the course of it they have shattered the traditional Republicans – and all despite their wackiness. In particular, they seem to have destroyed Jeb Bush, who was a major advocate of building the whole world into an American empire.
The author might be right in seeing the cause of this. If he is, it will probably make things even worse.