Thursday, October 29, 2015

Oct. 29: So much news it's too much news.

But the Irving press spares you the pain of too much reading.

It's  foreign news isn't really foreign at all. In fact, I'm not sure there is such a thing as foreign news any more. isn't even next door. And that seems likely to come home to us right here in Moncton very, very soon. That is a reality of today's world that seems not to have struck home to the Irving press which still reads like a 1920s, small-town booster sheet.

Today's front page has a lead fearlessly explored by two-fisted reporter Brent Mazerolle. “New Codiac RCMP HQ planned for 2019”. Eat your heart out, Clark Kent.

Then “Gallant hopes to bolster climate policy.” That's a pretty wimpy statement in view of the fact that we have known there is a severe climate crisis for decades. And we know it will affect even Moncton. (Yes, it will.)

Then, for the third day in a row, we have the story about Whoopi Goldberg and the Moncton firefighters – two days of ms. Goldberg saying “thank you”, and today's of the firemen saying “you're welcome.” Is this the end of the saga? I doubt it.

Finally, there is almost a page and a half about hub schools which tells us nothing whatever. It doesn't even tell us what a hub school is. It has a brief interview with Paul Bennett who has more than a little expertise on this subject. But I guess the reporter didn't have enough time to listen to him. It tells us nothing, and it's so long that very, very few will read it. And maybe that's the idea of the story – to kill interest in defending rural schools.

Oh, and the government says it can't afford to keep the schools open because of the deficit. Right. We can afford to give away money in the millions to Atcon, to offer great, forest deals to Irving, to consider cutting taxes to the wealthy, poor dears. We can even afford to let them get away with their billions in tax havens. But, sorry, no seats on the gravy train for the poor, for children, for rural communities.
The editorial bravely tackles a burning question of the day. How can we sell more eels?

Norbert gives us 1920s small-town boosterism beginning with the impact that Whoopi Goldberg will have on the world's view of Moncton and, of course, a cheer for the events centre.

In a desperately over-written high school essay, Rod Allen carries on the small-town boosterism theme. But at least it's not his usual overwritten, gawdawful humour.

I skipped the guest commentary. It's from the Fraser Institute, a propaganda agency for the wealthy.

Alec Bruce has the only column worth reading.

De Adder has a funny editorial cartoon of a schoolchild writing on the chalkboard, “Literacy is some good” This is, of course, in reference to poor literacy scores in our schools. I would suggest just a small change. It should not be a little boy doing that. It should be his parents and Premier Gallant writing on that chalkboard. And I can tell you now, it's going to get a lot worse as we close rural schools.
Canada&World News has only two stories worth reading. (Okay, three if you count the soap opera we call the Oland trial.) The other two are about Russia.

One is that the Islamic state is recruiting fighters in Russia's North Caucasus. The other is that Russian intelligence says Taliban may invade Central Asia. Contrast these two stories with the American accusations that Russia is helping ISIS in Syria.

In fact, the Islamic state is a bigger threat to Russia than it is to the U.S. Its spread to Russia or anywhere in proximity to Russia would be a direct threat to the existence of Russia. Like the U.S., Russia is involved in Syria to protect its interest in access to middle east oil. In neither case is there a love story here.

Our news media routinely portray our side as the good guys in a war against evil guys. Offhand, I can't think of a war that has ever been fought for love. (Well, maybe Mark Antony and Cleopatra).

People have certainly thought they were fighting for good causes. And, certainly, that has always been the message of politicians and news media on all sides. But it's rarely true. I can remember Hollywood films like Eagle Squadron about how Americans flocked to Britain in 1940 to defend Britain, and pretty much destroyed the German bombers all by themselves.

In fact, the U.S. had no interest in defending Britain or France or anybody else. If it had, it wouldn't have waited until 1942 to do it. Even during the war and after it, the U.S. made strenuous efforts to grab pieces of the British and French Empires (Hong Kong, Vietnam, Egypt).

Churchill and Roosevelt told us this was a war to bring freedom, democracy, and equality to the world. Neither Britain nor the U.S. (nor France) willingly gave freedom, democracy or equality to anybody. Britain had to be kicked out of its empire (with the exception of India which was big enough to tell the British to scram.) The U.S. clung to its dictatorships and puppet rulers (and still does) throughout Latin America, overthrew democracy in Iran and Egypt, maintained a puppet ruler in The Phillipines, fought in Korea to maintain a dictatorship in South Korea, murdered an elected president in Vietnam to establish a military dictator. France had to be kicked out of French Indo-China and Algeria after wars that featured torture on a grand scale.

On Nov. 11, we will be told, again, that our soldiers, sailors and airmen died to bring freedom to the world. And that is certainly what they thought they were dying for. The believed our political and business leaders who told them that. But our political and business leaders (and our news media) were liars.

Nov. 11 is a day of remembrance for those who well deserved to be remembered. But it is not a day for the glorification of war.

(Tony Blair, by the way, may soon face a report that could charge him with war crimes and result in the death penalty. Funny how the Irving press has never mentioned that. And such a charge would also implicate George Bush.)

Since World War Two, our political and business leaders have made one hell of a mess. Freedom is in retreat, led by the U.S. and Britain along with Canada in Harper's time.

Extremist Islam exists because we created it with our interference and killing and greed. Saddam Hussein existed because the U.S. created him to invade Iran. That invasion is what caused Iran to think of developing nuclear weapons. Iraq is in turmoil because the U.S. destroyed it as a nation. That's why it's now turned to Russia for help. (something else the Irving press has never mentioned.)

The Taliban was equipped and trained by the U.S. in order to stop the Russians who were invading Afghanistan. The Taliban became the armed force that the U.S. and Britain (and Canada) are unable to defeat to the present day. And now, even the U.S. supported government of Afghanistan is asking Russia for help against the Taliban.

The “rebels” in Syria were created by the U.S. in order to destroy the legal government of that country. As a result of all the interference of a century, of the games played by big oil to destroy any possible to threats to its profits, the whole region is fractured by religious differences but almost united by a general hatred of the west and what it has done to them.

Are there terrorists? You bet. The biggest one, by death count, is the U.S. Are there Muslim extremists? Yes. One of the worst is the king of Saudi Arabia.

The final attack on what happens to be a largely Muslim world was begun by George Bush and carried on by an Obama (who has not been a tower of strength). The future of the U.S. and perhaps of us is in the hands of a small number of multi-billionaires. And the recent Republican leadership debates have been no cause for optimism.

Recent news suggests Israel has entered at least one of the middle east wars with drone flights over Iraq. There are also stories of Israeli soldiers attacking ISIS troops in Iraq. In the most recent, there is a claim that a Colonel of the Israeli army has been captured in Iraq, fighting on the side of ISIS!

I have no idea how true this is. I do know there have been many other stories of Israeli involvement. And we do know that Israeli drones have been in the war zone.

I have often read  a New Brunswick news sheet called Media Co-op, and found it good reading. Now, a reader has told me it appears in a much wider edition on the web. So I read it, and found it quite good. It's URL is below.

As a child, I knew that Naziis tortured prisoners because Naziis were evil. But our side would never do that. The reality is that just about every army uses torture. Torture, mutilation, murder and rape are standard practices. For just a sample, google World War Two British torture. It's done to prisoners as government policy. It's done for the fun of it. The US was torturing long before Afghanistan. It goes back at least to the Phillipines War in  1900 - and probably back to the earliest European landings in the Americas. Scratch the 'probably'. Christopher Columbus was a world class torturer, murderer and thief.

There's piles of stuff to write about today. There's piles of sites I could send you to. But I'm seriously thinking of having a life, too. So here are three papers that are great reads today, and you can get them on google. The Guardian uk, Haaretz, and al Jazeera. All three are excellent. All three have some surprising news, today. And lots of it.

In The Guardian, take the time to look at one of the British news stories as well as the commentaries section. British news has the story of rising poverty in Britain accompanied by the diseases associated with poverty back in Victorian England.

There's a striking resemblance between the government of Britain today and the government of New Brunswick all the time. At the height of the British Empire, very little of the profits from the colonies ever reached the mass of the British people. They lived in dreadful conditions, suffered chronic hunger, and lived short lives. Even the soldiers who made all that wealth possible were simply dropped when they were no longer useful, many of them to die in the streets. All that money went to the already rich who (I have no doubt) occasionally tossed the poor a few  coins, and then set up philanthropic halls of fame to congratulate themselves.

The British made some advances (like medicare and better housing) in the early post-war years. But the rich are back in the saddle again. Anyway, these are tough times, so the poor have to pay for them.

And that is exactly the posture of just about any government in the history of New Brunswick, including the present one.

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