Monday, November 30, 2015

Nov. 30: "The Face on the Barrroom Floor"

If you really want to read the poem of this title, the site is below. But there's no cause to read it. I thought of this poem only because of a word association with today's editorial in the Irving Times and Transcript.  Barroom.   The editorial reminded me of an ignorant and drunken rant in a barroom, of a bunch of drunks sitting around and listening to their leader's rant, and saying, "Right on, man. Yeah."                  

The editorial is all about how we have too many civil servants, too many teachers, we gotta cut down, fire 'em. "Right on, Charlie. Yeah."

Times are tough. We got too much government. Get rid of it. And kill all these social servics for loafers. And get rid of all this regulation so that honest entrepreneurs can make some money.

"You tell 'em, Charlie. (burp)"

This is obnoxious. And it's crashingly ignorant. It focusses on the economic crash of 1908 as something we must still recover from. There's no   doubt that's true. But the crash was not caused by teachers or civil servants or government. And, no, it wasn't caused by doctors or nurses or even hospital laundries.

It was caused by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, an international banking house. And the collapse was caused by improper behaviour by Lehman Brothers and by other financial institutions. In sensible countries, like Iceland, such people went to jail for their crimes - because they HAD committed crimes. (But the Irving press never reported that.

Nor did it tell us why the U.S., with the biggest prison system in the world, didn't arrest a single financier. Harper, while tripping over himself to lengthen jail terms for even petty crimes, never even mentioned what our financial leaders had done.

It was worst in the U.S. where guilty billionaires were handed bail-outs amounting to a trillion dollars of tax-payer's money, and where guilty corporation directors used it to vote themselves multi-million dollar bonusses. Lesser people lost jobs or suffered pay cuts or tax increases.

That's an important part of why at least 82,000 people in Los Angeles county are now homeless each night. One-half are African-American. 5,000 to 10,000 are children on their own. 20% are veterans.

On the whole, they're educated at the national average, including a high proportion of university graduates. But what you will not find there is a single corporate boss or director who caused this tragedy and has made money out of it.

Dear editor: you twit. How can you say we have too much government when it's so obvious we have too little? And  how dare you demand that we all pay for a crisis caused by the very rich, and for which they have received enormous profit?

Dear editor: do  you read? If so, I suggest you read about the great depression of the 1930s.  Ordinary people were made to pay the price for that one, too. That's why millions of Canadians suffered huge pay cuts, loss of jobs, hunger, lack of health care, early death, hopelessness....

Dear editor: If you can read, may I suggest you read the federal report called "Royal Commission on Price Spreads and Mass Buying". It's in book form, and you should be able to find it in any good library.  (So you'll have to send to Ontario for it.)

It tells why that suffering of economic depression happened. And it shows how the rich actually did very, very well out of those years that were so very awful for everyone else.

Either this country will be a democracy run by us or we will all be owned and abused by the very rich. Either we will be run by governments selected by us, or one used by the very rich against us. Right now, the latter is happening, and happening very quickly.

Meanwhile, to catch up on who caused the crash of 1908, I suggest  you read The Economist (below).

For hundreds of  years, capitalists (sorry, entrepreneurs) have been looting their empires. Now that they can operate almost anywhere they please in the world, and with no regulations, they are looting us. Hint - the wage gap in Canada  has been growing since 1908. Ever wonder why?

Firing civil servants and teachers, and privatizing social services will not make things better. All of our history tells us that. We don't need less government. As was proven in the 1940s, we need more government to keep down the vultures among us.

My, that was a hateful and ignorant editorial.
Norbert was a pleasant contrast with a column based on research and sound reasoning.

Alec Bruce makes much the same comment I did above; but he does it with style and grace.

Pay special attention to the big photo of the wall around the Moncton Law Courts at the top of the comments page. It tells us nothing. But it saves paying for another columnist to fill the space.
There is virtually no news in any section of the paper.
It's not as if there's no news out there. For a start, there's lots of military news that we should have been aware of. The old world of nuclear bombs is rapidly fading, even as the U.S. rushes to place anti-missile missiles as close to Russia as possible - and even right on its borders. It seems that Russia may have countered with missiles so fast that anti-missile missiles can't touch them.

And that's just a small taste of the world's progress in weaponry. There are a great many weapons out there, and no major power can be sure of how its weapons will perform against other major powers. An informed column or two on that would be useful.

We also, while we're worried about the economy, might give a thought to spending on war. The world is in its fifteenth year of continuous war - with nothing to show for it. Oh, we claim to be taking out "bad men". But as I look at the record, I don't see how they're badder than then ones on our side. And these wars, plus the weaponry and the research on more weaponry, and the corruption have cost trillions of dollars.

What do we have to show for all that money  and all that killing, and the destruction of whole nations? How are we better off with Hussein dead? How are we better off with tens of millions of refugees and more to come? What have you gained by these wars?

The reality is that most of them have been fought at our expense, and for the profit of the oil industry and the war industry - both of which have gained handsomely from our donations.

That money could have ended poverty over most of the world. It could have been devoted to research and remedies for climate change. Instead, it has gone solely to make the filthy rich even, well, filthier.

Why don't our news media look at the economic effects of all this?

We have an astonishing gap between rich and everybody else. In fact, it may be the biggest in history. Why don't we see stories about that?

Where's the analysis of the trade deals that are happening now which will have a tremendous impact on our society? What we're seeing are giant versions of deals that began with NAFTA, deals that deliberately impoverished whole nations. We've had no reporting at all of most of those deals.

All of this is going to come home to us. The very wealthy are determined to get richer whatever the damage is to us. At best, that means many western countries are facing social and political breakdown and, probably, severe violence. We had a small taste of it with the showdown on fracking when our native people faced police, and the chances of killing by somebody were getting strong.

Arguably, the native people were in the right. But the law, as often happens when big business runs governments, was against them. We have seen what happens when such social breakdowns occur. We saw it for over a century in China. We've seen it in Iraq. We've been watching it for several hundred years among our own native peoples. We're watching strong signs of it in the U.S.

Big money and its owners are the biggest threat to our survival all over the world. That's why the Middle East is in chaos. That's why the world has made almost no progress on dealing with climate change. That's why so many millions have been killed in the last century. But we get no news on that.
And, just for a change of pace. I spotted a story that I think was on TV news; but I've lost the source. Anyway, it was an interview with a professor who said that Hitler was like Donald Trump because both can be labelled fascist.

Actually, they can't. For a start, Hitler wasn't a fascist. He was a Nazi, which meant national socialist. But he actually wasn't a socialist, either. (If he had been, wealthy Americans would never have supported him.)

The words Nazi and Fascist have been misused for so long that they no longer mean anything.

Hitler created hysteria in Germany using Jews to stir it up. That sort of racism was never a part of Mussolini's fascism.

Both fascism and naziism were supportive of big business. Mussolini did it by legally giving the right for the rich to be in government simply because they were rich. (Such a right was also available to certain professional groups - though I'm not familiar with the extent of it.)

HItler never did that. He did what we do. He simply allowed the very wealthy to do whatever they wanted to do. Just like us. That's why the western powers were so slow to react.

Both could rouse large audiences. So can Trump. But it's not fair to say Trump is a Mussolini. Unlike Mussolini, his political proposals have never been to give special interest groups positions in government; and Mussolin rarely, if ever, used racism

Hitler had nothing original to offer in government. He had no changes to propose. Neither does Trump. Hitler exploited racism and fear to gain power. So does Trump.

Trump is not Mussolini. He's Hitler.

And many a western leader is Hitler. As Conservatives reflect on the defeat they have suffered, they would be wise to consider the resemblance between Harper and Hitler.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nov. 29: Sunday odds and ends.

There was an item I forgot yesterday -  in the story on how the New Brunswick government is going to cut costs, I didn't mention one of its targets - funding to universities. the government is thinking of a funding formula based on the performance of the universities. Neat idea - except - nobody has the faintest idea how to judge university performance.

Does it mean performance in published research? Often it does mean that. But any such system means a decline in teaching - an area in universities that already resembles a swamp.

Does it mean ratio of students who complete degrees?  No problem. All they have to do is to lower standards by giving higher grades. It's already rampant in the U.S., and has been for many years. (Grades have also been on the rise in Canada for years.)

Does it mean rating teaching ability? Universities commonly have very little teaching ability to rate. And, in any case, nobody knows how to rate it. All of this is why the MacLean's university ratings (and the world university ratings) are a crock.

Typically of this province, our government looks at business models. But university is not a business. Besides, there are countries much poorer than Canada that offer free university education. Cuba is an example. So shouldn't we take a look at how they do it?

The prime minister of Britain wants to bomb ISIS. And that's a cop-out. We can't destroy such a movement by bombing. Over the past 50 years, the U.S. has killed millions by bombing Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan at a cost of trillions. It has destroyed whole nations.

And in every case, it has failed.

It has concentrated on bombing 'terrorists' for almost fifteen years. And for all the killing and destruction, it has gained nothing. In practical terms, every war has been a loss. And the terrorists are not fewer. They are more. Worse, the U.S. has made itself a world of enemies.

At the end of the cold war, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall,  America did not have an enemy of any substance in the world. Now, it faces a powerful Russia, an economic and military giant of China, and a hostile Muslim world. Violence has proven a bad idea, and bombing largely a waste of time. So why does Britain want to bomb ISIS?

1. It's cheap because it means fewer casualties.
2. It kisses up to the U.S. That's important because, without U.S. support, British business has no future whatever in the Middle East, a region it once ruled.

I like al Jazeera. It was founded to be an honest news source rather than a propaganda one. That makes it one of the very few in the world. It sometimes slips a little bit. But it's still far superior to anything in North America. And, oh,
it has so much more of everything than the Irving press has. (though, in fairness, the Irving press beats it in news that counts -  like what celebrities we have never heard of who are having birthdays today.)

I recommend you read all of today's al Jazeera. It has so much we don't get in both news and opinion.

It's worth looking at the whole issue - especially news, opinion, and investigations. It has news of South Africa where police killed 34 miners. They were very low paid (as most miners in this world always have been, and as our news media almost never report despite the prominence of Canadians in the world mining industry.)

It has the story of vast megacities on the Africa coast, cities made up mostly of horrible slums, and now suffering terrible floods due to climate change. And this one has plenty of videos so we can see what the world's real problems are.

Its opinion columns are always real opinions, not just propaganda or trivial stories. And it has a Canada and U.S. section which gives some idea of how the rest of the world sees us.

Similarly, it's worth reading Haartez every day. Alas, I shall  now have to pay for mine. But at $2.00 a week,  that's a lot cheaper than the Irving press. And a lot better. And you can probably get it for quite a while without paying.

Its focus is more narrowly on Israel. But it also has considerable world news  (much more than the Irving press), and excellent opinion columns.

For a very impartial and intelligent analysis of the Russia-Turkey tension, take a look at this column in The Guardian.

The Guardian also has a topic rarely mentioned by the Irving press - the number of people killed by U.S. police so far this year. It now stands at 1,034. It also has a photo of each person.

The number of such killings in Canada for the same period is 20.  Something is seriously wrong in the U.S.  But Canadians should not sit back. Historically, Canadians have had, perhaps, one such killing per year. The rise, very recently, is dramatic. When such killings rise, it is usually a sign of social disorder.  And the response, itself, is a part and perhaps even a cause of the social disorder.

The figures for police killings appear on the opening page of Information Clearing House. But they are immediately erased, so quickly that one often doesn't even see them. Gee! I guess that must be terrorists.

The following sites are about trade deals like Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, CETA, NAFTA. Typically, these are really about making the very rich richer. In many cases, they destroy the power of any nation to regulate such things as environment and health care and even public education. Anything that gets in the way of making a profit becomes illegal. Environmental protection, for example, can simply be revoked. Or, if graciously permitted to stay, capitalists can require the government to pay billions in compensation to them for 'lost profits'.

It is the final and complete end to democracy with all power handed over to international oligarchs. Gee, I wonder why we've never seen a story in the Irving press about this.

This is why I have no great optimism about the climate change talks now taking place. Most of the national leaders there are really answerable to their own oligarchs. That's why little of any significance has happened since the first of these talks in 1992, almost a quarter of a century ago.

That's why, yesterday, an oil executive was quoted at length and with favour in The National Post in saying that climate change was not a social issue. No. Like NAFTA and all those other deals, it's not about people. It is, he said, an economic issue.

That may be why this province's most esteemed philanthropist has never, to my knowledge,  donated money to any group working on climate change. That's why Brian Gallant will, someday, say that a pipeline is perfectly safe. And he'll say fracking is perfectly safe. That's why Irving Ltd. is optimistic enough to spend huge sums on improving its refinery.

Greed's twin children are stupidity and destruction.

Meanwhile, the situation in the Middle East remains very, very dangerous for all of us. What's at stake for the U.S. is regional and, perhaps, world dominance. (Though chances of the latter are fading fast.) What's at stake for Russia is its status as a world power. And it's likely that China has a bigger stake in this than we realize.

Will Canada be able just to look on? Not likely. A Russian attack on Turkey, for example, would draw NATO into the fight because Turkey is a member of NATO - and so are we here in Canada.

Is it likely that "terrorism" will be defeated? No. It hasn't been defeated in some fifteen years of massive killing. In fact, it has grown with every attack it has suffered. We are going to have to reach a deal with ISIS.

Yes, I know ISIS is cruel. I know it beheads people. It tortures them. It burns them to death. It kills innocent people.

So do we. So don't get all indignant on me.

This is a war that began in 1914 with European intrusions to get oil. The violence and looting involved in that began the destruction of existing social and political systems - which led to their replacement by religious fears and hatreds. The final blow, also about oil, was the American destruction of Iraq. More killing will simply spread the area of violence, perhaps to include even New Brunswick.

We have to deal.

They aren't nice people. But neither are we.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nov. 27:

The National Post was founded by Conrad Black - one of the few people in this world who, with the most expensive of lawyers, could be sentenced to years in prison - and come out insisting that it was all the fault of  stupid judges. Black is a man of collosal ego who believes that anyone who disagrees with him is, by definition, wrong and probably ignorant.

I can remember the joy of my few conversations with him. When he speaks to you, he closes his eyes. I thought it was because he was concentrating. Then I realized it was because he was listening only to himself. The National Post was created in his image.

In the site above, The National Post criticized David Suzuki for saying that the oil industry stance on climate change (that it's an economic issue) is like that of slave owners.

The National Post is displeased. It points out, for example, that slave owners didn't pay high wages like the oil industry. And, no, they didn't. But that's not what Suzuki was talking about. Slave owners DID argue that slavery was an economic issue. It was essential to cotton-growing - the big business equivalent to today's oil industry.

But what's really worthwhile is to scroll down to the responses from readers. Almost all are bitter, angry at Suzuki. They really have nothing to say - but they're angry. Like Black with his eyes closed, they don't think, and they don't want to think. They're fed up, and in a frenzy at people who say we have to make changes. These are the same people who are racist, who hate Muslims....... They believe they have never, ever done anything to regret or even apologize for.

These are the sort of people that the Republican leadership candidates are speaking for. This is what Donald Trump is appealing to. This was the Harper vote in our last election. This is what P.M. David Cameron of Britain and Hollande of France represent.

These are the kind of people that Hitler appealed to.
A11 has the big story that a local pizza chain has expanded. And, just to prove it, it has a photo of somebody holding a pizza. The only story in section A worth reading is at the bottom of page 1. It's about domestic violence, and a young mother's escape from it.

The editorial is sensible enough; Norbert has an extremely vague column about what he thinks is wrong with health care.  In fact, it's so vague, I have no idea what the point is. The guest column is another freebie political speech.

Brent Mazerolle has a passable column.  Jo-Anne Moore is excellent, and very helpful, on the issue of abuse.

But in all of these opinions and commentaries, the world pretty much ends at the border of the little circle we call metro Moncton. I was surprised that no part of the paper carried a major story that - who knows? - might involve us.

A man now living in France has revealed the names and accounts of foreigners hiding taxable income at a Swiss bank. One thousand, eight hundred of the names are Canadians with some two billion stashed away. And this is only one of many, many banks around the world who are in the money hiding business.

Of course, the whistleblower has been found guilty and sentenced to five years. So far, no billionaires have been charged. God bless them.

Gee! We've had all those commentaries on how we just have to cut school and medical budgets. Anyone care to comment on how our governments should be taking action on something like hidden money? Or how our commentators should mention this issue as we're on the edge of a   'fiscal cliff"? And my, it's odd that the book on the 'fiscal cliff' didn't mention this sort of thing.

Canda&World has three - count them - three stories about the world. (Okay. We'll count Toronto as a foreign country for four. Its island airport won't be expanded. Phew! I've been worried about that.)

One of the biggest Canada&world stories is at the bottom of A1. A woman found a lost child, and took him home. It happened up the highway in New Brunswick.

Other than that, nothing is happening in the whole, wide world.

On the very last page, B8, we get "Pope arrives in Uganda to celebrate Christian martyrs." That sounds as wimpy as our Faith Page. But Pope Francis is no wimp. On his visit to Africa, as in his  visit to Latin America, the pope is not just celebrating martyrs and accepting flowers from little girls. He's been visiting the slums. He's been talking about the vicious greed of big business that drowns millions in a sea of poverty, filth, and early death. That's been the thrust of his messages.

But the Irving press uses reports that don't mention that part until half-way through - if at all. For a full text of the Pope's speech read the site below. Note especially his mention that all people have the right to clean water.

In Kenya, they don't have that right. In the U.S., hundreds of thousands have been denied that right. In Canada, many of our native peoples don't have that right. And it's quite possible we shall see people in New Brunswick denied that right.

This is a religious leader who doesn't babble goody-goody trivia like our Faith page. He applies  his faith to the realities of daily life. But I guess the Irving press would never allow that sort of thing in its pages. And I guess that's why all its sermonette writers sound the same.

Last night, I caught Canada's General Hillier on TV. He was expressing the view that we must bring freedom to Syria; and Assad must go. Not for first time, the general indicates a lack of understanding of the world 'freedom'.

If Syria is to be free, that means Syrians get to choose their own government. And it is certainly no business of General Hillier to tell them who they are allowed to vote for. Hillier is reflecting an American wish. The US wants Assad gone because he's a "bad man". The real reason is that he's friendly to Russia, and Russia wants a presence in the middle east.

The reality is that Russia IS now a presence in the middle east, perhaps the major foreign presence,  and most Syrians have more to thank Russia for than they have to thank the US, or even General Hillier.

As a side note, the eagle-eyed editors at the Irving press missed another new 'presence', this one in Africa. China is building a naval base in Africa - next door to a U.S. military base.

It's about 17 years ago that the "Project for the New American Century" was born - the plan that brought Bush to power to begin a conquest of the world by invading Iraq. It's really not going according to schedule. On the contrary, the American empire is now under serious challenge. It's time to look for another view of how the world should work.
Oh, and be sure to google 'Behaviour British Troops Iraq'. It's a big story of torture, murder, brutality and rape by British troops in Iraq. Funny how the Irving press missed that. It's all over the British press and parliament. It's a story of mass torture to the death, of gang rape.... In short, it's a story of what almost all armies do, and have been doing for thousands of years. And these troops were not acting out of some sort of native evil. This is a normal reaction to the horror of war. I don't blame the soldiers. I blame the war - and the people who decide for war when they know this will happen.
Below is a brilliant opinion column from The Guardian. In fact, I would recommend reading most of the columns on that page.

Our good friends in Saudi Arabia, besides dropping American bombs on Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, have beheaded 150 people this year for various crimes. They're planning over 50 more before the year's end.

And aren't those people in ISIS just terrible?
Finally, and on a lighter note, Brussels, Belgium is experiencing a complete shutdown of just about everything as the army searches for terrorists. But fret not. That's normal for Belgium.

When I was living in The Netherlands, every house had its interior lighted and its curtains up, day and night. It was as if the people had to say, "Look all you want. We aren't doing anything wrong."

Belgium, France and Luxembourg were quite different. At nightfall, their cities are filled with the clang of closing, iron shutters. They're very suspicious people. I learned that when I parked my car overnight, and came back to find it smeared with garbage. Of course. I had Dutch licence plates.

Belgians are French and Flemish (the latter close to Dutch). And they hate each other.

Anyway, I can control my tears for Belgium. This is the country that killed tens of millions in Congo through overwork, starvation, torture, and plain murder.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Nov. 27: Just a small town weekly...

There's nothing wrong with a small town weekly. Typically, they have just one reporter, maybe two, who covers very local events that are overlooked by daily papers. They have one or two opinion columns that are contracted to writers who live in the community or are known to it. I wrote a column  for such a paper that provided an audience of, maybe, 10,000.

There was no out-of-town news since people got that from the better-equipped daily, the Montreal Gazette, whose circulation was something over 100,000. I can't find the circulation figures for the English-language Irving papers in New Brunswick, but they must total something approaching the figure for The Gazette.

What aren't all they all merged into one?

There is, of course, no hope that the local news will ever be more than the trivia it is now - though the sheer quantity of trivia could be reduced so that the section would also have room for provincial news. Provincial and Canada news would then be covered by a central bureau which would also be covering world news for all the papers.

I would leave L'Acadie Nouvelle alone since that's an audience that should be getting its news and views with an Acadian perspective.

What we have now is a section A that's a jumble of local and provincial news, most of it unspeakably trivial. Then we get more provincial news - and even local - in section B.

Today's section A front page headline is "Oland to testify "in considerable detail' ". This isn't city news. In fact, it's not news at all. This is pure sensationalism. If you want that sort mindless thing, you can get one of the magazines at the supermarket that has headlines like "Shocking! Queen says Prince George not cute". or "Elvis alive and is a snow plough contrator in Dieppe". "Prince Charles had sex change at birth. Queen feared having two queens in a row would be bad."

The other big story on page one is that an elderly, homeless man in Moncton who dresses as Santa Claus was robbed. That's a sad story, of course. But it's also treated as sensationalism. Some real questions might be - how many homeless people are there in Moncton? Why? What do we do for them? What should we be doing? Let's get away from the sob story. Let's see an editorial suggesting what we should do about this.

A3 continues the beat with sad stories about a man going on trial - way off in Cambellton. And it tell us nothing we didn't know a year ago. A Miramichi woman was killed by a train. A4 has the stop press story  (mostly photo) that Riverview will put lights in its Christmas trees this year. On A5, a cheap and easy story on a woman getting sentenced for two years. Also on A5. we learn a local radio station has eliminated 4 jobs.

And that's about it.
The editorial fumes about the great problem of the day. Our bus service is cutting wireless computer service to passengers. Hey, ed., I think Moncton has bigger things to worry about - like making sure people get enough food, and can find a place to sleep in the winter.

Norbert has a good column - except his one-eyed perception of terrorism. He says the people fleeing the middle east are the victims of  terrorism - by which he means Muslim terrorism. Norbert, they're also fleeing American, British, French, Saudi (and Canadian) terrorism which has killed far more innocent people than Muslim terrorists have. The victims of our terrorism in that region must now be well over 2 million. Nor is it less terrorizing when the killers are wearing uniforms.

Norbert, do you think people feel honoured to have their baby blown up by a western bomb?

"They flee delusional, violent misfits, seemingly mentally ill misfits..." says Norbert.  Yes, they do. And most of those delusional, violent misfits are us. It's our violence and delusion that create violence and delusion in others. There was nothing like ISIS in the middle east - until we got there. Until we understand our own capacity for evil, we will never defeat it.

Cole Hobson's column asks the question "Did Childish, Churlish Behaviour Mar High School Football 'classic?' It takes 4 columns for Hobson to say he doesn't really know anything about it. And, of course, the big space above is filled with a photo of football players so we can know what he (isn't) talking about.

Brian Murphy's column has something to say. Not much. But it's something.

Alec Bruce has a well-written column. But he plays the teaser game too long this time. I didn't see what he was talking about until the final sentence. He makes a good point - but needs to make it clearer exactly what that means.
Canada&World has  (maybe) four pages of news - and four of ads.

Africa and Latin America don't exist. Asia lives only in a controversy about a beauty contest. Nuthin' happenin' in Yemen.

But there is room for a big story that a century-old bottle of beer has been found in Halifax harbour - and it might be drinkable. There's also a big story about a local woman who runs a food store. That's the story. She runs a food store.

Is there anything worth reading in Section B?

Well, yes. On A1, representatives from six conservation and business groups called on Premier Gallant  to change the Crown Lands and Forests Act to prevent the giveaway of our forests to Irving that happened under the previous government.

But the present government is still the previous government. It's Irving. So the premier said no. ( Mind you, if Mr. Irving wanted an act changed, you can bet it would be changed - pronto.)

Gallant babbled that the act constitutes a contract; so he can't change it. If that were true, it would still be illegal for women to wear bathing suits that showed their knees. It is no great matter to change an act to make sure that a terrible giveaway like the last one does not happen again.

The lead story on B1 is worth reading. It's about a village that is protesting the failure to expand a nursing home. But the village is a half hour drive from Moncton. That doesn't strike me as being the big, Canada&World news story of the day.

B1 has a story that Canadian leaders are excited about the arrival of refugees in Canada. That's not really a story. It's more like propaganda. But it's the kind of propaganda we need to counter the hateful propaganda that is all around us. It's worth reading it.

B7 has an important story. France has a law which forbids Muslim women to wear headscarfs because they are a religious symbol. Girls have even been kicked out of school for breaking that law. And the European Human rights court has upheld the French law.

So - will priests be forbidden to wear crosses? Would I be forbidden to wear my T shirt with the Star of David on it? Will nuns have to wear mini-skirts?

Maybe France should go all the way, as Hitler did. He forced Jews to wear stars of David to make it easier to pick them up for the death camps.

I'm a little sensitive to this kind of racism because I grew up in a Quebec that was nose-deep in ostentatious Catholicism. Every  government office had a crucifix. So did every court - and  you took the oath swearing on a Catholic Bible. Bishops were allowed to approve every piece of legislation that came down. The streets were full of religious statues, and hordes of priests and nuns in full gear.

Then, the separatists forbade religious symbols on any civil servant (except, perhaps, a discreet cross.) I'm sure it was just a coincidence that this happened just as Muslims were becoming noticeable in Quebec.

This is racism. We have returned to the Naziism of the 1930s and 40s. And that's not an overstatement. It's most noticeable in the United States these days. But it's also in much of Europe, and in Canada.

Hitler's major objective, besides building a German empire, was to block any spread of socialism or communism. That's why western capitalists, including Canadians, gave Hitler so much support. That's why the Canadian government was sympathetic to Hitler right up to 1939.

But he needed an emotional rallying point. That's where Jews came in as objects of fear and hatred. He also accused them of being communists - an accusation Canada also made all through the war, and almost to 1960. U.S. communist hunters of the 1950s paid special attention to Jews. Almost all the current  Republican candidates - and Hillary - are naziis in their outlook and policies.

Hitler did not create naziism. It was already there in the minds of the wealthy. Hitler just gave it an emotional focus to draw in the common people. And that is exactly what Donald Trump and most American leaders are doing - with the help of most of the news media.

What you will not find anywhere in the Irving press is any mention of what Pope Francis is saying as he visits Africa. Francis is one of the few religious leaders in the world to have the courage and intelligence to tell some hard truths about the nature of our society, and to see what we are doing from a religious perspective.

Meanwhile, the British P.M. is doing the Christian thing. He's going to spend billions to bomb Muslims. I guess that why he can't afford to help the 25,000 homeless children who live on London's streets.
al Jazeera has an excellent video of the history of ISIL. It is a product of the
destabilization of the Middle East that was carried out in order to loot its oil for the profit of big oil business in the U.S. and, at first, in Britain.

Empires (and greed) destroy societies. That's why 'terrorism' gets its chance. It's created by our terrorism and greed. That's why fighting ISIL is not going to settle anything. We've been doing this sort of fighting all over the world for 500 years.
And the fighting has never settled the problem. Of course not. Violence is the cause of terrorism, not the solution.

That's why Harper was a damfool to put our pilots at risk.

The whole opinion page of al Jazeera is worth a read to get an idea of what a real opinion page looks like. (Caution - the first opinion on the page is not what the title suggests it is. It's also heavily academic in its tone, way too much so for a popular audience.)

Terry Seguin of Fredericton CBC has an important statement about what is happening to the deer of New Brunswick.

The reader who sent me the above story also sent me one about the Russian jet shot down by Turkey. I hesitated to publish it at the time because I could not find confirmation for it - but it has been amply confirmed since. ( My apologies to the reader who sent this.)

I have lots more. But enough is enough for a day.

Two things scare me most.
1. Donald Trump is a Hitler.
2. Almost all the candidates for both U.S. parties are Hitlers.
3. The American people just love their Hitlers.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nov. 26: We live at a turning point in history....

....and it's not a good idea to live at a turning point in history.

The fighting in the middle east has huge stakes for the U.S. and Russia. The U.S. has made it clear it is looking for world domination. That's the principle put forward by Project for the New American Century. There can be do doubt about it. It's easy to find on the web. It's a scheme developed by, among others, Jeb Bush. It's often spoken of as American Exceptionalism, the belief that the U.S. has the right to intervene anywhere in the world, regardless of the law. It has the right to invade for any reason - or for no reason. Obama has publicly endorsed this.

It's essentially similar to the old, American concept called Manifest Destiny, the one that justified invading all over Latin America and overthrowing governments, conquering The Phillipines and putting in MacArthur as the dictator in the inter-war years. And, like Manifest Destiny, it rests on the assumption that it is God's will for the U.S. to rule the world.

More important than God in this issue, though, is that ruling the world is the will of the big league, American capitalists. Britain and France are tagging on because they have to. Individually, they're no longer capable of conquering anybody. So they have to hang around for sloppy seconds.

What is happening now in the middle east is that Russia has drawn a line in the sand. For decades, the U.S. has been pushing NATO further to the East in order to give the U.S. military bases and missile sites close to the Russian border.

Ukraine was the last straw for Putin. That's the major reason the Russians are now in Syria, to stop American expansion. They are also using the occasion to demonstrate to the U.S. that their weaponry is very, very sophisticated.

They have also been far, far more effective against ISIS than the U.S. and its allies were. But, in fairness, that's partly because the U.S. doesn't want to destroy ISIS - not until ISIS has destroyed Syria.

If Russia succeeds in Syria, it will mean a major blow to the dream of American
Exceptionalism or The New American Century or Manifest Destiny - whatever it may be called.

That's why this war in a shattered part of the world is a very important one. And a dangerous one for all of us. Any mistake could have disastrous consequences for the whole world.

Too bad it made only the last page of Section B of the Irving press.
(The front page was taken up by the really big story of the day. "Dieppe proposes property tax hike".)  The Russia/Turkey story is a short column at the end of the last page. It also is an example of how we have come to accept bias in our news. In the fourth paragraph, it says both the Russian and Turkish leaders 'pose' as strong leaders.

What a silly comment!  How many leaders can you think of who pose as being weak leaders?  And, in fact, both Erdogan and Putin are strong leaders. So what's the point of the word 'pose' in there?

Putin has sent in a cruiser with missiles that are said to be extremely accurate. How would the west react if he used them on Turkey? This is one hell of a dangerous situation.

I have another report sent in by a reader from a source I'm not familiar with. So I'm still checking it out. But, according to this report, Putin has wiped out the Syrian rebel force along the Turkish border. The report says he did it yesterday. It also says Erdogan blinked this time; he ordered his aircraft to stay grounded. This is the rebel force the Turks were helping when they shot down the Russian aircraft. The report I'm just checking on also said that Putin has warned Turkey that its bombers will, in future, by escorted by fighters.

Oh, the Irving press story ends by saying that Turkish aircraft often fly into Syrian airspace to attack ISIS. Like hell it does. In fact, Turkey is the one that has been getting ISIS oil to the market, thereby making billions for ISIS. Turkey has also been the route for supplies to ISIS.

Putin doesn't just 'pose' as tough. He has a long record of being tough.  I can't think of a single incident of him bluffing or backing down.

In any case, the greater part of Syria does not exist any more. The most prominent examples of its breakup are what are effectively self-governing states operated by Kurds, ISIS, or Turkmans.

That's a common result when a nation falls victim to imperialism. The nation, itself, is destroyed, leading various groups, often based on religion, to break away. That's why Pakistan is very separate from India. That's why China survived only through civil wars until one side was strong enough to dominate the whole country. And that's why the Iraq of today is by no means the Iraq of fifteen years ago.

There was an excellent programme last night on History Channel describing the process in Iraq. The U.S. won a quick victory. But it was short-lived as the whole country quickly broke up into factions warring against the U.S. and against each other. The old Iraq no longer exists.

(A senior American official involved in that war was interviewed. He admitted that the war dissolved into failure for everyone, including the U.S But he added the line I had been dreading. "But Saddam Hussein was a bad man."

No doubt he was. So is Bush. So is the king of Saudi Arabia. So is Tony Blair.
Would anyone be so stupid as to suggest it would be worth killing over a million. innocent Americans or British or Saudis to get them?

The middle east is no longer far away. It's as good as next door, and it's a very dangerous game that is being played there.

On CBC, I watched a discussion of whether our six aircraft should be pulled out of the region. One man was angry at the suggestion. It was a matter of honour to stay and to do our part.

Killing people is never a matter of honour. And our part in this should be to help mend it -  unless, of course, you own Esso or something like that. I don't understand why Trudeau has not moved on this. A war about which billionaires should own the middle east has nothing to do with us - except to place us and the whole world in danger.

Not much in the Irving press. A2 has story about six New Brunswickers who were fined for not paying taxes. None or them was U-KNOW-WHO.

On A7, there's a story from a Montreal research group that there's no point in raising taxes on the rich. The main reason is given in paragraph 2. The wealthiest hide their money in tax shelters, anyway. So we still wouldn't get anything from them.

Interesting. That raises questions about why our federal and provincial governments have never addressed this problem. Can we expect a probing, Irving press report on this? If we don't deal with this, then the growing wage gap is going to create some very serious social problems in Canada. It already is doing that in the U.S.

B2 also has the story that this province is thinking of selling the rich the right to get public works like highways and bridges named after them - for a price. Great idea. And I guess that would be tax deductible, too.
The editorial criticizes our schools for their low quality compared to a world leader like Finland. I guess the editorial writer doesn't know that it all depends on which ranking system you're using. All of them rank Canada highly. And some rank Finland well below Canada.

In any case, ranking systems have limited use because the local culture has a great deal to do with student performance. Some cultures, like Chinese and Judaic, encourage thinking and learning. Some don't. New Brunswick is one of the don'ts. As the Irving press shows us every day, New Brunswick has a culture with a dislike of learning, of discussion, of any intellectual activity. That's why it has a low literacy rate. It has nothing to do with "snow days". The greatest damage done to learning in New Brunswick is done by the tone set by the Irving press.

Norbert rings the bell again for our need to face a financial crisis. Too bad he never looks at the wealthy as a cause of the crisis.

Rod Allen abandons his usual posture of pompous wording and heavy-handed wit to produce a column that is quite good writing. Too bad that all he says could have been said in 1/5th of the space.

Justin Ryan's column is a useful look at the big, big problem he's facing in his  job. In fact, it's big, big, big. Canada has a long history of racism and discrimination.

Alec Bruce is quite a hand with the final, punch line. I had no idea where he was going until the last, four paragraphs.  Good stuff.

The front page of Canada&World has a big story about failed Conservative candidates who met with Conservative wannabees to criticize the new, federal government. Who could possibly care?

B7 has a very big story that France is going to extend its airstrikes against ISIS.  It doesn't mention that France has been bombing it for over a  year. (Well, he may not have been bombing it. Like other western powers, France may prefer to bomb the legal government of Syria. ISIS, after all, has been very useful for the west in its fight against the Syrian government.)

The photo shows the French president with Angela Merkel. It's quite a contrast between two, very different people. Merkel has shown nothing but courage and compassion. I don't think any world leader has come close to her.

Asia, Africa and Latin America, as usual, don't exist in the world news of the Irving press.
Below is an interesting site for Moncton. It deals with homelessness. So far as we know, there are 780 homeless people in this city - and 15,500 at risk. Mind you, it's worse in jolly old England where London, alone, has 25,000 homeless children, just children, living in the streets. This takes us back to the London of Oliver Twist.

But the real stunner is the U.S. with 2.5 million homeless men, women and children - right down to babies.    

You know Moncton. It's the city that had no trouble raising a hundred million for a hockey rink.

All of this can be summed up in two words. Wage and gap. We have a few people in this province who can set their own wages. And they also get to set the wages for everybody else. There's a price to be paid for that wage gap. Care to write a column about it, Norbert?
Paul Craig Roberts has excellent credentials. As well, in several years of reading his columns I've learned to respect his courage as well as his understanding. His message is that Turkey is lying about its reason for shooting down the Russian bomber. And western leaders who take Turkey seriously on this are liars, too.

I don't know the reason for it. Was Turkey trying to pull NATO into the war so it could grab a large part of Syria? Is it possible the U.S. asked Turkey to do this?
The one thing we know for certain is that the U.S. is not fighting ISIS, and it never has. It is using ISIS to destroy Assad and to destroy Syria. That's why both the U.S. and Turkey have been allowing ISIS to transport its oil, and send it to market through Turkey. And that is why both are displeased that Russia is attacking ISIS.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nov. 25: It's way to early to make guesses about Turkey.

The news from both sides after the downing of a Russian jet by Syrian aircraft is not only biased as it comes from  both sides; it's also very confusing.

For bias, I notice that many western sources, especially American ones, felt it necessary to say in their reports that Russia has a habit of flying into the air space of other countries. I have news, kiddies. Many countries have a habit of flying into the air space of other countries. Certainly, Russia has done it. But the world champ is the U.S. Just in the last few years, it has flown drones over other countries - not only flying over, but killing.  Nobody knows how many other countries because our press in not interested in publishing that. But it is generally recognized that the the U.S. killed thousands of people by drones, with the majority of victims being civilians.

As well, Turkey has committed a war crime - though I haven't seen that mentioned in the western press. It has mentioned that Turkish ground fire killed one of the Russian pilots as he was parachuting to earth. What it  hasn't mentioned is that such a killing is a war crime.

There's also a very confusing element in our news. Reports in the press vary a bit. But all seem to agree that the time the Russian jet was in Turkish air space (if it actually was in Turkish airspace) was 9 to 17 seconds.

I haven't seen a report that expressed puzzlement about that. But let's see...

Turkey said it radioed 10 warnings to the Russian jet. Then they shot it down.

Ten radio warnings and the shooting in, tops, 17 seconds. Those Turks must talk really, really quickly.

But we should not waste time pinning the blame on anybody because this incident is really  the result of a middle east that has been de-stabilized for a century, going back at least to the very romantic Lawrence of Arabia. And no 'country' can be blamed for a century of murdering, manipulating, and destablizing the millions who live in the middle east, and the millions who have been fleeing it since oil was discovered. The blame goes to a small number of extremely greedy and amoral people in the oil industry.

The U.S. created a rebellion in Syria. The purpose was to get rid of Sadat because he was too friendly with Russia.  The rebels, though well supplied by the US and others, could not overthrow Sadat.

At the same time and earlier, a great many Muslims had become enraged at U.S. attacks and massive slaughter in Muslim countries - like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya... and they remember the same treatment by Britain and France. So they formed resistance groups, often based on elements of Islam that took extreme forms. That's a common reaction to invasion by a foreign religion.

And they used terrorism. Of course. All armies use terrorism. In any case, the new groups were in no condition to launch conventional wars against Britain and the U.S. And where did they learn the techniques of terrorism?

Much of it was taught to them by the CIA when they needed US advice and help in stopping a Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Al Quaeda, in particular, was a direct product of CIA training in  Afghanistan.

When ISIS made its appearance, the U.S. had mixed feelings about it. Obviously, it could be a threat to the U.S. But - maybe it could do what the Syrian rebels couldn't do - destroy Sadat.

Accordingly, the U.S. was remarkably gentle with ISIS. It did not interfere when ISIS rolled huge convoys of oil trucks all the way across Syria to Turkey.
(It even admitted it knew when it said it feared bombing because innocent people might be killed. Pu-leeze. This is the U.S. that had no problem in killing millions of innocent civilians in Vietnam, Iraq, Libya....)

The oil was then transported across Turkey in a deal that seemed to be managed by the son of Turkish President Erdogan. It then went to market, producing millions for ISIS to fight its war. (Gee. I wonder who bought it.) As well, ISIS was openly financed and supplied with weapons by Saudi Arabia. And there is some evidence it was also helped by the U.S.

The U.S. did not change its nice-niceness to ISIS until Russia intervened. (Putin has his own, oil billionaires to care for.)  When Russia destroyed most of the ISIS oil traffic in a matter of days, the U.S. had to destroy a few trucks to show it was against ISIS. But it gave the truckers a forty-five minute warning.

That's how we got here. But where we go from here is anybody's guess. But I hope it's settled within the coming year - before the U.S. gets a new president.
If it isn't settled before the U.S. election, then it doesn't matter who wins - Clinton or Trump or any other (with the exception of Bernie Sanders) - we will all be in real trouble.
In local news, the only story worth reading is that we might start getting refugees in New Brunswick within a week. I'm glad to hear it. I'm sorry we have to wait that long.

Well, some people might get excited by the big story about how it's time to buy stuff like tires and shovels for the winter. An ace reporter covers that one, with photos.  Would it break the bank to send a reporter around to find out where Justin Bourque got his guns to kill three RCMP officers? And, perhaps, to research a piece about out gun laws and why they permit the sale of guns designed to appeal to people to want to make themselves feel powerful and dangerous? Then there's the question of the shooting range he shot at. Where is it? What laws govern it?
It's a day to remember on the opinion and commentary pages. The editorial writer and Norbert Cunninham both  have useful and well-reasoned columns. The same page also has a superb letter to the editor, "Let's show some care for the Karing kitchen."

Usually, I detest commentary columns written by politicians. Usually, I think they're just cheap 'fillers' as that sort of thing is called in the business. But today's is an exception. It's by Sherry Wilson, the Conservative opposition critic for rural affairs. It's about the neglect and even destruction of rural New Brunswick. Neither Conservatives not Liberals have anything to brag about on the issue. But ms. Wilson at least makes a case for dealing with it.

Alec Bruce is excellent on the energy future for this province. I was a little nervous about where he was going until almost the end. But he came through in great style.

Brian Cormier's column?  - well, this is something to read if you're very, very lonely, and nobody ever talks to  you.

Just above Cormier's column, as there is just about every day above that column spot is a large photo. And, as usual, it adds nothing to the column below it - which also usually says nothing. So why is the photo there?

Because it fills space, and it's cheap. It's a sort of pictorial motto for the attitude of the Irving press toward its readers.

But we live in a world that extends quite far beyond our own navels. What happens in that world matters to us just as much as, say, the announcement of a Moncton men's wear store that it is changing its location. It's perhaps even more important than today's headline story, "Dieppe proposes property-tax hike".

Victoria Park has a display of all the names of people from this city that we sent to die in the rest of the world that we knew nothing about. Then we repeated it in Afghanistan. Now we're doing it in Iraq with our air force.

For the Boer War, World Wars One and Two, for Korea, for Afghanistan, for Libya, and now in Iraq, few Canadians and fewer young men in their teens knew what those wars were about.  Then, as now, our news media supplied us largely with propaganda. In 1941, we sent some 2,000 young men, many not yet in their twenties, to defend Hong Kong. Many were untrained or little trained. Their weaponry was, to put it kindly, limited. They never had a chance.

They fought hard. But Hong Kong had to surrender. That happened on Christmas day of 1941. Over 250 Canadians were killed, and 500 wounded. They had fought, virtually, to the death. Another 250 would die of starvation and abuse in concentration camps. Those who survived to the end of the war had suffered mental and physical damage that would plague what was left of their lives.

I met many of them. When I was a child, I knew one of them as a scoutmaster who ran a troop with my father. His health would never recover. Even a kid could see that. He told me only a bit about it. But it was obvious that he had known nothing about Hong Kong when he joined up. Nor did most of the others. Nor did most of them know what the fighting was about, and they couldn't have found Hong Kong on a map. How could they? Most were young, and had never finished high school.

Nor could their parents tell them much. After all, the news fed them nothing but propaganda - and it was commonly considered bad form (as it is now in New Brunswick) to discuss what's going on in the world - and it was considered shameful to have your own ideas about what was going on.

The key  to understanding world events (and how they affect us) is not news. It's analysis - opinion columns, comment columns. The Irving press used to have a superb columnist in Gwynne Dyer. He would be a lot more useful on the commentary page than that damfool photo that appears every day taking up a huge space on the page.

We need analysis, comment, opinion to grasp the meaning of what is happening in the world. We need to know that before we send more teens to die. We need it every day. We even need more than one a day. I know it's cheap and profitable to fill empty space with staff writers who have nothing to say. But it's no help to the reader.

News stories tell us what is happening. That's all they do; (and they don't usually do even that truthfully). We need to know why they are happening, and how they affect us.

The story of the Russian jet that was shot down did get into page B1. Knowing about that and  understanding it is something that could well mean life or death for us. I should have thought that would be the A1 page headline. But it didn't even make the headline in world news.

The big world news story on p. B1 is that Canada's refugee resettlement plan has changed. Almost as prominent is yet another story about the Oland trial.

Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is killing thousands with American bombs and cooperation, never seems to make the news at all. And there's very little, ever, on Asia where most of the world lives.

Nor is there much about the Canadian pilots who are risking their lives in Iraq.
Why are they there? Why has Trudeau decided to bring them home? Why are we bombing ISIS when the U.S., itself, has been going light on the bombing? (Russian bombing achieved more in a couple of weeks than U.S. bombing has since the start.) And if we're bringing them home, what aren't we doing it now?

The Irving news desperately needs Gwynne Dyer, and it just as desperately needs a real, foreign news editor, someone with an understanding of the world. And it would take just one of each to meet the needs of all the Irving papers.
Now, for your assigned reading...

Try this from Pepe Escobar. He writes for news media owned by the Russian government (RT) and by the Chinese government Xinhua (New China Agency). Both of those follow the government line, though Xinhua journalists have gained more freedom than they had when I was last in China.

It's fair to say that these are intended to be propaganda. But what makes them different from say. Free Europe, is they use the truth. They're selective in which truth they choose to tell - but they do tell the truth. Within those qualifications, I've found that Escobar usually makes sense.

This one is about China's plans for its place in the world. It plans to replace the US as the dominant economic power. It's quite possible that China will do it - and soon. And if it does, that is very bad news for the hopelessly over-valued American dollar and the heavily indebted U.S. economy. And that might explain the recent confrontation between China and the U.S. (The latter is my thought, not Escobar's.)

Xinhua looks and reads much like a big, western newspaper. But it's worth a look to get some different points of view - and some great photos of China.

Then there's the following on drones, how they affect their 'pilots', and how the majority of those killed are ordinary civilians and children.
There's lots of news the Irving press misses while carrying lots of garbage we could do without.

And remember. The rest of the world is no longer far away. It's right here with us on this same Earth.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Nov. 24: This may be late because......

..... I had prepared for a day of good news with the major players seemingly coming to an agreement to end the Syrian war. Then I read the news that Turkey had shot down a Russian aircraft. There isn't nearly enough news about this to offer any interpretation of what it means. We can, though, be almost certain this is a dangerous situation for the whole world.

Turkey has been a main support for ISIS from the start. Turkey is the one that was accepting Syrian oil for export sales to fund ISIS. Turkey has also been a major supply route for weapons and other supplies to ISIS.

Was the plane shot down in Turkish airspace? If so, it was scarcely raiding Turkey. It was, at worst, on the border. And, according to Russian claims, it was still over Syria. Where, exactly is the wreckage?

If it was, very slightly, over the Turkish border, was shooting it down either wise or necessary? It could have been warned off first. Oh, I know. Turkey had a right to shoot if it was over the border. But would a sane person shoot at such a small overflight - knowing that it could trigger a world war?

Who authorized this? Was the government of Turkey notified? Was Washington notified? Did either government approve of this?

A great deal of the future, our future, rests on the answers to these questions

Nor is it possible to figure who is on each side. In many cases, each country is fighting its own war for its own purposes.  Turkey  has been supporting ISIS - possibly so ISIS will destroy the Kurds. The U.S. has been remarkably gentle in fighting ISIS. How gentle is revealed by the speed with which Russia has been destroying it. Why was the U.S. so gentle? The answer is surely obvious. ISIS was the American tool to destroy Syria.

The Middle East is wars within wars. The U.S. wants absolute economic control over that region and the whole of Africa. Russia wants a strong presence in the region to counter U.S, economic control. Britain and France both want to restore at least some of their old, imperial power by getting back a share in the looting of Africa and the middle east. Belgium, too, has a greedy finger in that pie.

Most of NATO has nothing to gain by this war. From the start, NATO has been little more than a name for the American empire in Europe, and a means to place nuclear weaponry right on the Russian border. Canada would be a fool to get involved in such a NATO war. And I'm quite sure many NATO countries feel the same way.

This is all about greed and money. Nothing else. We are creating an Africa and a middle east that are fundamentally unstable, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The West is doing exactly what it did for centuries in China, India, The Phillipines, much of Asia.

The Iraqi war destroyed the Iraq nation. It no longer exists except as lines on a map. The same is true of Libya, of Afghanistan, and is probably true of Syria. We have killed millions, and taken all hope away from tens of millions, both those who flee and those who stay.

Those who stay will probably turn to extreme forms of their religion, a common result of such wars. That's why the French of Canada turned to massive support of the Catholic church AFTER the British conquest. That's why our native peoples struggle so hard to retain their traditional religions.

These wars are not fought to bring benefit to any but a tiny number of people. And, in order to encourage us to carry out this mass slaughter, we are encouraged to hate the people we are killing - often because of their religion. For examples, just check your daily news.

By giving power to people who think only of money, we destroy not only our victims but, in the final stage, ourselves. That is what has been happening to Europe since 1914. And there are strong signs it is happening in the U.S.

And it's infectious. Read the Irving press. Notice how much of the news and opinion is about money - and very little about the needs of the people who live here.
I'll talk only briefly about the Irving press. When I saw its idea of the big   story of the today's headline, well, ....."Couple reroutes honeymoon in  wake of terror alert in Belgium." On another page, we have the breaking news that a local men's wear store is moving.

There's a good column by Dr. Pat Mansfield on the importance of palliative care; and a good one by Alec Bruce on why we need immigrants.

Section B, Canada&World, has a shocking story that Irving Shipbuilding did not get a contract it wanted. Well, I never....  I mean, I can understand leaving feeding the hungry up to volunteer food banks. But,  you know, the Irvings are real people.

And that's pretty much it for world news. It was surprised the big news story from yesterday didn't make it into the Irving press. However, it did make The Guardian.

In brief, the columnist says that information is still very scarce. But it places in danger what I had planned to write of as the good news of the day - the peace talks to end the war in Syria. At this point, any mistake could be a disaster. I well remember the last time such a crisis as the threat of a nuclear war happened. It was a showdown between Russia and the U.S. when Russia was trying to ship nuclear missles to Cuba. Everyone was gripped by the terror of that. Curiously, there is little reaction to this crisis though it is at least as dangerous.

As well, a reader has sent me a whole bunch of sites that look at this from a range of viewpoints.

Is there a role for Canada in all this? Yes. But it would be both useless and foolish for us to send our military to help either side. Our military is not big enough, and it's not well-equipped enough, to make any difference in such wars as are happening.  And if we go back to using our military that way, that really means we can only fight on the U.S. side. That would make us continue as what we are, a small branch office of the U.S. war machine.

Nor, of course, am I suggesting we should send troops to fight the U.S. But there is an important, useful (and vital) role we can play. Back in the Lester Pearson days, we made the Canadian military into peacekeepers. They proved valuable in preventing a number of wars that could have been fatal to us all. They also gave Canada an international status and respect that we have since thrown away by acting as trained canaries for the U.S. We did it most disgracefully when we sent our "peacekeepers" to Haiti. It was really a mission to make the American invasion of Haiti seem respectable.

The world really doesn't need more killers. It needs a military that can prevent killing.
I have much more. But this blog is already too long. So I'll include just two more sites. One of them is an article by a widely-travelled man from Sevastapol in Ukraine. He's an experienced journalist, and one who can be very fair-minded and objective in evaluating people.

Finally, go to google. Type Los Angeles Homeless images

There are now over 60,000 homeless in Los Angeles county. It's really quite a comment on a nation which decided that freedom means freedom to make as much money as you can - and keep it.  Freedom is coming to have much the same meaning in Canada. having little  to do with the rights of people or their needs.

For proof of that, read the Irving press.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nov. 23: Trying again. Will this have real paragraphs?

Let's deal quickly with the Irving press. There isn't much to it.

A front page story is that Moncton drivers often don't stop for  a funeral procession. That's not a front page news story. It's not a news story at all. It could be an editorial or a comment column. On p. 3, a big story says collecting hockey cards is coming back into favour. Well, that certainly changes my outlook on the world. And that's about it for local news.

On the editorial page, Norbert Cunningham tells us our politicians always do only the expedient thing, avoiding useful and important decisions. So that's the world according to Norbert. Again, this resembles his quasi-racist view of society. Politicians are useless. Civil servants are incompetents. Teachers don't know what they're doing. Gosh, it that's true, this pattern of incompetence must be a racial one, inherited from defective parents. So let's extend it a bit.

Who elected all those politicians in New Brunswick since 1867? The people of New Brunsiwck. Right? They elect Conservatives who screw up. So they then elect Liberals who screw up. And when they screw up, we elect Conservatives who screw up.  This has been a consistent pattern for the whole province throughout its history. So New Brunswickers must be born stupid. (That's the logic of what you're saying, Norbert.)

But I don't believe in racism. So I don't believe that New Brunswickers are born stupid. I think they are made stupid by their lives of exposure to a lying and propagandizing press. (And I'm sure you know which one I mean.) It's a press owned by a man who wants people in this province to know nothing and to think nothing. Congratulations to the editors of the Irving Press for your good work in carrying out this vision.

Steve Malloy has a good column on the effect of our mindnumbing reliance on the computer for our social life. It's a repeat of the dumbing-down of society that was begun by TV. Like TV, it's become trivial and, even more than TV, it's become bland. The computer has uses. But social life is not something it's really good at.

Alec Bruce ponders the truth about the so-called baby-boomer generation. In fact, as Bruce says, they are the disadvantaged generation. He doesn't give a solution - but this wasn't written to offer a solution. It was written to make us realize that there is a problem. It also affects education; I must devote a day sometime to that.
Section B, as always, seems to work on the assumption that the rest of the world is far away; so we don't need to know about it.

Two headlines on are page B1 are examples of the use of 'news' (which is really no news at all) for fear-mongering - as in "Brussels remains on high alert over threat of Paris-style attack" and "Obama says U.S. will 'not succumb to fear". Really,neither story is news at all, and neither explains what's happening. These are two headlines that tell us nothing is  happening, but are worded so as the induce fear. And bigotry.

If their is an attack on Brussels, we will read all about how brave little Belgium is standing up to terrorism. This the same "brave little Belgium" which murdered tens of millions in Congo so it could loot the country and impoverish its people. Brave Little Belgium was one of the most brutal of West's imperial powers.

For some samples of writing about it, see---

There's another story to encourage panic on B4 - "NYC emergency responders simulate terror attack".

There is nothing in any section of the paper to explain why all this is happening. And there never has been.

So, I'll take a stab at it.

I don't know a whole lot about empires before 1492. But I know a fair bit about about those since then.

Columbus' discovery that the peoples of the Americas had gold triggered over five hundred years of empire-building by western Europe, led by Britain, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and then the U.S.  All the conquests were built on looting countries, and either enslaving their people or destroying their economies, converting the native people to slaves or very, very cheap labour.

In the beginning, the conquests were to enrich kings.  But the process was soon taken over by a quickly rising class which quickly displaced the power of aristocracies and even of kings. In 1775, the American revolution to dispose of the power of Britain was inspired largely by the capitalists of the southern states who dominated the lucrative, cotton trade. It is not a coincidence that George Washington was a very wealthy slave owner.

Native peoples were taken as slaves, starting in 1492. But it was too easy for them to escape into the forests they knew so well. So the slave market shifted to Africans. It is estimated than tens of millions of them died just in transit. The rest were left with a result of imperialism which would became characteristic of all colonized people.

Their social environment had been destroyed. They were exploit for profited - with no consideration for their social or cultural needs. They were suddenly cut off from all the social and cultural world they had known. African Blacks in the U.S. have never, even after these hundreds of years, recovered from that. It also happened to those enslaved in New France, in Acadia, across the Canada of confederation - and the recovery in modern Canada has been slower than most Canadians seem to think.

Capitalism and imperialism, together, destroyed nations that way. More than that, they destroyed cultures, customs, all that any people had ever known. They replaced these with only poverty, exploitation, humniliation and, frequently, death.

How long does it take to recover? I don't know. After five hundred years, we still don't know how long it takes to recover.

For years, the world existed only to create profits for the very wealthy of Britain, France, Belgium, Portugal, Italy. The U.S. joined the imperialists immediately after the revolution with the mass slaughter of native peoples to take their land. Canada was next on the list; but that failed. (It failed in 1812.  But we're in even greater danger now.)

Then it was the turn of Mexico and, from late in the 19th century all of Latin America, Hawaii, Alaska and The Phillipines. Then the U.S. fixed its eyes on China.

In World War One, we were told we were fighting to spread freedom and democracy. But, at the end, the only imperialist power to lose possessions was Germany, which lost its colonies in Africa and China.

After World War Two, almost all the colonies that got freedom had to fight for it. But, through the war, U.S. capitalists had their eyes on those colonies themselves. That's why the U.S. told Britain NOT to 'liberate' its colony of Hong Kong. Anerican capitalists wanted that very profitable city. It also told the French not to liberate Hanoi. The French, like the British, decided to ignore the order. The ships they sent were bombed by American aircraft. The French went ahead anyway to retake French  Indo-China. But they found themselves in a brutal war with the people of Indo-China. That's why the U.S. sent troops to help the French. And that's why, when the French gave up, the U.S. continued the war in the country we now call Vietnam.

The U.S. is still looking to make an empire of the whole world. It's called "American Exceptionalism", the doctrine that the U.S. has the right to invade and kill regardless of international law. And that is what created a powerful American hold on Africa and the middle east as the old, European empires collapsed.

The experience of imperialism is always a shattering one and, oh, it lasts. Even a powerhouse like China has never really recovered from over a century of humiliation, of loss of any sense of direction, of mass starvation, of decades of civil war in the attempt to rebuild.

In Africa and the Middle East, nations lost identities when capitalists drew new border lines on the map. Nor could the people adjust through the new economic prosperity. There was no new prosperity for them. They were murdered, forced into cheap labour, looted....
Their world, their customs, their values were annihilated.

Are some Muslims determined to kill us - even the innocent us? Well, yeah. Some people get like that if you kill enough of the innocent them. And, when you think about it, killing is not a reaction limited to Muslims. The world biggest killers through this age of western imperialism, the biggest destroyers of societies, the biggest looters, the biggest creators of poverty and fear and violence have been us Christians.

Funny how our churches haven't noticed this.

Capitalism has its place. But unregulated, it's a killer dog without a leash.

Big capitalims is now into its final phase of world conquest. Free trade deals are designed largely to destroy the power of governments. That means they are designed to destroy the power of us. That certainly seems to be true of the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership. Governments just get in the way of the right of big business to destroy our rights, our societies, our customs just the way is has destroyed them among the 'lesser breeds'. The only difference between big business and us is that it waves the flag and tells us to be patriotic - and make it even richer.
And let's hope this comes out with real paragraphs.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Nov. 22: odd computer problems. Have I become a terrorist threat?

In recent days, I have suffered computer problems. Yesterday, it was the disappearance of my paragraph structure after I published my blog. I didn't notice it for a couple of hours. In fact, all the problems have affected only my blog. As well, none of the problems is repeated. I get a new one each time. Call me paranoid, but there's a lot of coincidence in there. I wish for luck today. I was astonished to see, on yesterday's page A6, a large ad from a gun store called the smoking gun. It seems to specialize in guns for the mentally disturbed. All its rifles and shotguns are designed to look like military weapons, sometimes with suggestive names like the Churchill 'tactical' grip shotgun,, the Escort Marine, the Extreme defender. Then there's the Churchill shotgun with a 14” barrel, way too short for any purpose but killing people at short range. Some have stocks modelled on the German light machine guns of World War Two. This can have no use except for selling guns to people who know nothing about them, but like the macho. Some rifles use the 9 mm pistol cartridge, useful only for killing people up close. Some have monster magazine capacities, just in case there are more than three RCMP officers to kill. Few of these guns are of any use at all for hunting. None is of any use for target shooting. When three of our police officers were murdered last year, Moncton went into an ecstasy of signs saying “Thank you to our police” and of planning memorials. But it hasn't done a damn thing of any value to protect them. Where were the newspaper stories to ask where the killer got his guns, and how he got them? Nobody asked what our gun ownership laws are. Nobody demanded the renewal of registries so police can know who has these guns. Nobody demanded we get tougher gun laws – and closer observation of shooting ranges. We now have a voice in Ottawa. And Gallant now has a voice in Ottawa. And the prime minister in Ottawa is not Stephen Harper. So where are you, Irving press. (Oh, sorry. I forgot. You would lose an advertiser.) Now, I have some readings for us to catch up on. The opinion below is on a topic we rarely think of. But it's as important as climate change, and a lot more important that ISIS. Another item the Irving press overlooked is the crisis of water in Detroit. A fundamental need – perhaps the most fundamental need – for human life is water. The city of Detroit is cutting off water to tens of thousands of its residents because they can't afford to pay for it. Google for photos and videos of Detroit. It was bad enough when I saw it many years ago, especially in the black districts. I saw houses with people living in them, and with great holes in the roofs. Now, there are far, far fewer people. That's thanks to free trade agreements that allowed the auto industry to move out so it could improve profits with cheap, cheap foreign labour that had no unions to protect them. And which had police ready to take out “troublemakers”. Now, Detroit is vile with high, high rates of poverty and even higher rates of violence. And if you can't pay for water, tough luck. In fact, American business has often used the American government to force countries receiving aid to privatize their water systems. Every drop of water that falls from the sky is privatized. And many of the poor can't pay for it. Tough. There's a wage gap? Some day, the rich will shower all their wealth down to everybody. Yes. It's called “trickle down”. Too bad the U.S. will be in chaos long before that will happen. The next site is rather a long one. But it's worth reading it to see how the current crisis is a direct product of the Iraq invasion, and how the U.S. became linked with Muslim “terrorists”. (Actually, I would have taken it back further – to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and the American equipping and training of al Quaeda and others to fight that war. Many civil wars and “intrusions” have begun with the CIA and other agencies equipping others to fight wars that are to the advantage of the U.S.) The story below has only a few lines because this is not my usual, free copy of Haaretz. It's just a teaser to get a subscription. However, the first sentences make the point. In the late 1930s and most of the 40s, Jews were forbidden to enter the U.S. or Canada. They were seen very much as North Americans today see Muslims. Racism and bigotry are nothing new for us. The following is a letter by an American senator to Assad in Syria. It speaks for itself. Then let's go back to the record of the U.S. (much like that of Canada) in accepting refugees. This one takes it back to the great Irish migration of the famine years. Irish could still expect discrimination in Canada for almost a century after their arrival. In the First World War, Canada turned back a shipload of Hindu refugees – even though we knew there was a German raider on the loose that would sink the ship, killing all aboard if it found it. Well, it was the only Christian thing to do. The following is a speech by Bernie Sanders who is running for president on a Democratic-Socialist ticket. But Bernie Sanders is not supported by the very wealthy or by the news media they own. Any Republican or Democrat candidate for president will be a candidate with a very big campaign fund. Any Republican candidate is almost certain to be a warhawk. And Hillary Clinton is worse than the worst possible Republican candidate. Funny the Irving press never talks much about Sanders. Have you noticed that the Irving press seems to have stopped Gwynne Dyer's columns? I guess it's cheaper to get free ones from hack politicians. Anyway, fret not. You can find all of Dyer's columns at the following site. Germany has now accepted some 900,000 immigrants. That far, far outstrips Britain, France, Canada and the U.S. all put together. We, meanwhile, are going to leave an uncountable number of those refugees in tents through the winter and in countries that don't want them, lacking enough food to survive, and suffering disease prison camp conditions. That's odd. When I was a little boy in school, I was taught that the Germans were the evil ones.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Nov. 21: ....defiant Parisians mourn the dead....

What is defiant mourning? How can you tell it from regular mourning? And how can a reporter tell that millions of people are mourning defiantly (whatever defiantly mourning means?) Have you ever seen a headline saying that defiant Jihadists mourn their dead? Or during the slaughter of millions in Vietnam - that defiant Vietnamese mourn their dead? Did defiant Naziis mourn their dead? I don't know. I've never even seen such a headline on a story about the "other side". But that was a headline in yesterday's CBC news. And oddities like that don't happen by accident. This is a deliberate attempt to slant the news. 'Defiant' is a loaded word. It converts the real story "Parisians mourn the dead" into a Godblesstheparisians, and aren't those jihadists terrible. I'm sorry the CBC is slipping into that. Yes. What happened in Paris was terrible. So was what happened in Libya and Iraq and Vietnam and Afghanistan where millions were killed by our side. But I don't recall any of our news media sobbing over those. This is a sympton of news being turned into propaganda. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues its drone bombing of Yemen which has been going on for decades. Nobody knows how many innocent people have been murdered. And nobody cares. The Irving press rarely mentions it at all. And our good friends in Saudia Arabia (who also supply ISIS with piles of money and who are more jihadist than most jihadists) are starving and killing Yemenis with the help of 19,000 tons of bombs recently delivered by the U.S. The U.S. is also helping to make sure that the people of Yemen don't get food. The UN estimates that some 80% of the people of Yemen are well advanced in starving to death. A great many have already died. Especially children. God bless America. Many of the uncoubtable number of Syrian refugees who fled to the Greek island of Lesbos either drowned on the way or are now dying of exposure, hunger, lack of medical care - so many that Lesbos has no space left to bury the dead. And we're going to see worse, much worse as winter comes down on the huge numbers of refugees in Europe who are still living in tents or even out in the open. But our hearts are with Paris. Yes. We are all Parisians. Well, more accurately, we are all racists. Interestingly enough, Paris is the birthplace of modern terrorism. The French revolution was immediately followed by what is known in history as The Reign of Terror. And the main form of this terror was - guess what - beheading. In fact, the beheading business was so active that axemen weren't enough. The French invented the guillotine to speed things up - and were still using it into the 1970s. And we really must give the U.S. some credit for its contributions to the history of terrorism. During the American revolution, gangs of "patriots" roamed the colonies to steal cattle, steal houses and whole farms, to rape and/or to kill people they accused of not supporting the revolution. Surivivors were terrorized into fleeing. That's why so many of us Canadians are descended from United Empire Loyalists. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were terrorist bombings. There were no war sites in those cities to bomb. The purpose was simply to terrorize. (I must have missed the CBC headline..."Hiroshima surivors defiantly mourn their dead.") Agent Orange was a tactic of terrorism. So was napalm bombing. Iraq was essentially a terrorist war aimed at civilians. And when we cut off food and medical supplies to Yemen, and people are left holding their dead and dying children while Saudi bombers drop American bombs on them, that's terrorism. Yes, there are terrible people in this world. And many of them are us. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ In the U.S., indications are that it will not accept even the tiny number of refugees it had promised. Congress is raging for a war against Muslims. State governors are refusing to accept Muslims. Obama, to his credit, is sticking to his promise to accept ten thousand. But it looks as though almost all of his likely successors, including Hillary Clinton, have found their Jews for the twenty-first century. As Hitler targetted the Jews, they will target Muslims. Europe, especially including Britain, remains as racist as always. The oustanding exception is Germany, largely thanks to Chancellor Angela Merkel. But even she cannot deal with the size of this crisis. Nor, given the examples set by Britain and others, wil the German people remain willing to help. We have learned nothing and changed nothing since 1939. We should rename Rememberance Day as Apology Day for our military who died, so we are told, to make this a better world. Will Canada accept its promised 25,000? I would certainly hope so. But we live next door to a powerful neighbour which is in hysteria. We will be under severe pressure from the U.S. as Obama's presidency reaches its end. (WE may even be at war by then). Meanwhile, my experience of growing up among refugees and of teaching them, has been good. In the post-war years, they made Montreal a far more interesting and exciting place than it had ever been. I would look forward to seeing more of them, many more, in New Brunswick. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ I have said nothing so far about the Irving press. there isn't much to say. On this day of world crises, the editorial writer thinks the big issue facing us is the need for video cameras at traffic light crossings. Norbert's column might seem to be a repetition of the one he did yesterday. Some of it is; but its worth repeating, and he adds substance to what he said yesterday. Brent Mazerolle has a column on the need to make changes to our health care system. But, as is so common in the journalism of this province, it's all based on financial issues. It ignores that there is a also human life involved here. It's rather like this province's approach to education. It's not about people. It's about money. We give money - without question - for a new hockey rink on the argument that it will make money. Maybe it will. Maybe it won't. Yes, I know we have to make money to accomplish most things. But there's very little sense of establishing what people most need BEFORE we start throwing the money around. And when we establish priorities, then it would be nice to know how much the wealthy families of this province cost us. The guest column is another political speech. J0-Anne Moore has an excellent column on dealing with violence, especially the high rate of violence against women. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Most of what is in Canada&World you can read for free on google. On B8, "Obama calls on youth to reject Muslim extremism", As I've been following it the greatest mass killers in the world in the last fifty years or more have been Christians. So how about this for a headline - "Obama calls on youth to avoid Christian extremism."? Nah. It's not extremism when Christians do it. They just defiantly mourn. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The sermonette on the Faith Page looked good. At first. Then I had the misfortune to read it. First, it assumes we don't do terror. Second, all he suggests we should do is pray. I must have a different version of The Bible because the reverend's version sounds pretty wimpy. When Jesus said "love your neighbour" all He meant was you should pray for you neighbour? As I remember it, the Good Samaritan actually did something. Will His church be sponsoring refugees? I realize that many American churches, like the one attended by George Bush, certainly won't. But some Canadian churches are sponsoring them - which sounds to me more like what Jesus was about. Are any Moncton churches sponsoring refugees? Meanwhille, in this time of crisis, I see in the Church Chatter column that churches are rising to the occasion with three columns of Christian activities to help those in need - Bake and craft sale, Gospel music concert, Pancake supper, Christmas tea and sale.... Onward, Christian soldiers... _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The origins of this turmoil and terror go back a century to the realization that there was enormous wealth in oil. Western capitalists (entrepreneurs) were determined to keep most of the profit from this. (So much for the fabled "trickle down" effect of capitalism.) There were occasional protests, but these were easily put down by western troops. The turning point was the American invasion of Iraq. That was the greatest and greediest blunder of our time. Bush and Blair lied about the reason for it to cover up the reality that they were looking for economic control for the profit of the U.S. oil industry. It killed over a million people, mostly civilians; and it created immeasurable suffering for the rest. Iraq has not recovered, and probably never will. Both Bush and Blair are now very, very wealthy men. The people of Iraq still live in poverty and fear. Since then, we all live in panic and fear. Pope Francis has long since recognized that. The churches need to play an active role in this crisis. So far, they haven't done much. It was like that in Nazi Germany, too.