Monday, August 31, 2015

August 31: "The Canadians are coming. The Canadians are coming."

And so governor Scott of Wisconsin is galloping through the night streets of the U.S., sounding the alarm.

The Irving press did notice the story that governor Scott  has  warned of the need for a wall between Canada and the U.S. to protect the U.S. from ---whatever. Good for the Irving press.

This would all be very funny if some U.S. leaders and a great many U.S. citizens weren't buying it. But they are buying it.

It began with Trump's stunning rise in the polls after he proposed building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. has enormous problems, few of which have been addressed by any of the Democrat and Republican candidates. The worst problems are both social and economic. The federal debt is too great ever to be repaid. Poverty is rising because American big business is an equal opportunity looter, quite as happy to loot and impoverish Americans as it is too loot and impoverish Iraq and Congo and Ukraine and Guatemala and Haiti. ( And, along with Canadian big business, to loot and impoverish Canada.)

The social part is the racism and hysteria that is unravelling American society. As a small example of this, there is the question of why U.S. police kill Americans at the rate of 700 and more a year. Police aren't born evil. Certainly, police killings are pretty rare in Canada, rarer still in Britain, and in most European countries. Why aren't the news media asking why this is so?

Then there's the problem of a generation of war which has murdered at least three million people, and created as many as forty million refugees, maybe more.

Education in the U.S. is a shambles, largely due to privatization because only the rich can afford private schooling. And it gets worse at university level.

And the leading candidates really have nothing to say about all this – except to do more of the same. And the American people are flocking to the man who says the most pressing issue is to wall out Mexico. Oh, and maybe Canada, too.

This isn't stupidity. It's insanity. Not surprisingly, Trump seems to be eying Sarah Pailin as his running mate.

The Republicans will almost certainly lose the election. But it doesn't matter. The Democrats are just as intellectually vapid, and just as insane.

It reminds me of the day many, many years ago when I read Gibbon's “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” In those falling years, the imperial guards would sell the emperorship to the highest bidder then, in due time, murder him to sell the title to another taker.

The whole mess is compounded by a teaching of American history which is mostly false. The American revolution was not fought to make people equal. The settlers who spread to the west did not have to defend themselves against native peoples. They were invaders who murdered native peoples, and stole their land. The U.S. did not go to war only when it was attacked. It has gone to war at least 200 times, and in every case at the wish of big money. (Yes. That includes World Wars One and Two.) It has never, and never even attempted, to spread democracy to the world. It is an empire, as foul and murderous as all empires, and not at all different from the British Empire it rebelled against.

Teaching history with the purpose of making students patriotic is a big mistake. They have to grow up to react to a real world, not a fairy tale.

And iour only knowledge of the world comes from news services that are pure propaganda. Put them all together, and you get leadership campaigns like the disgraceful (and very dangerous) one we're now watching in the U.S..

And Canada is not as different as it should be. Harper and Trudeau have political philosophies much like those of Trump – but without Trump's talent as a clown. In general, the Liberals and Conservatives suffer from the same faults as the Republicans and Democrats; and all four are controlled by big money. (That's why Harper arranged for such a long campaign. He has buckets of billionaire money. The Liberals have much less because the billionaires know the Trudeau Liberals are losers. The NDP has a much, much smaller budget because it's honest. Ditto for the Green Party.)
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The headline on page A1 tells us more than it was intended to. “Gallant zooms in on LNG project”.
Yes, he'll be meeting with leaders of New England and Eastern Canada to discuss a Liquid Natural Gas terminal in St. John.

Oh, of course – he's also going to discuss climate change. However, that latter statement makes up less than one half of a sentence in this long story. So don't expect our premier to spend a hell of a lot of time on climate change. That half a sentence is in to “just pretend”.

Let's see. The discussion is really going to be aabout big natural gas terminal, big and expensive. That means we expect this world to be using fossil fuels for a long, long time. And that means we'll have a pipeline, probably several, to carry it. And it will be going through our province for a long, long time. And that will turn up the pressure to develop natural gas in New Brunswick. And that too will have to be a long term investment.

Most of the world, despite the best efforts of oil billionaires, surely now understands that climate change is for real, that it could destroy us all, and that we may already have passed the point of no return. But the oil billionaires are still getting permission to drill for oil in the fragile soils of the Arctic, and in the Bay of Fundy. Duh – it creates jobs.

That's not stupidity. It's insanity.

If there's more news worth reading in section A, let me know.
The editorial is about cutting teachers. It's so illogical, I have no idea what the point of it is. And it's quite evident the writer doesn't have a clue about education. I haven't seen such editorials as the Irving press ones since I stopped reading gossip magazines.

Norbert has read another book. Again, it's by professor Don Savoie. I think he reads only Savoie and Saillant. Norbert, you can't believe everything professors say.

What the professor says is we need a national debate about how, ever since Pierre Trudeau, power has been centralized in the Prime Minister's Office, and how we need a national debate to decentralize it.

In fact, power has almost always been centralized in the PMO since 1867. He also says the Senate has become a shambles. Again, it has always been a shambles. We don't need a debate. We need a prime minister who's honest, intelligent, and accepts the importance of dissent within a government. If we don't elect such a person and such a party, then constitutional change will do nothing. We need an honest and intelligent Prime Minister – and we have the power to elect that kind of person.

It's not the form of government that has to change. It's us. We have consistently elected puppets of big business with, to say the least, a limited respect for democracy. Harper is probably the worst. But he's certainly not the only one in a tradition that goes all the way back to 1867.

Prof. Savoie tries to make his point as a solution to our economic problems. Tell me, prof, how do you find it possible to discuss New Brunswick's economy without ever, ever mentioning the name Irving? Irvings own the province. And you, as an observant kind of prof, must have noticed that, at the beginning of the Alward term, Mr. J. Irving announced that he was a member of the government (without the bother of getting elected.) He then set up an absurd meeting of flunkies to plan the provincial economy. And he told Alward who to appoint as advisors to the Minister of Finance who, as I recall it, was a former Irving employee.

But neither Norbert nor the prof has, to the best of my knowledge, ever said anything about Mr. Irving – and certainly nothing more critical than “Happy Birthday”.

And Norbert, by all means read books. But you should also think about them. Don't just believe them.

And prof, as a keener on governance, how about a book on the impact of big business on political parties in New Brunswick?

Craig Babstock has nothing much to say about a nothing topic – (parking for the new hockey rink).

Steve Malloy, like the editor, writes on education. Like the editor, he has no training in education that I know of. But, unlike the editor, he's observant and he's logical. This is an excellent commentary.

Alec Bruce, too, does a solid job on coping with change in this province. As I started reading, I feared this was going to be pretty light stuff. But it gets tougher and tougher with each paragraph right to the end.

Read it to the last sentence, “Let the clear-headed, cold-eyed wisdom in this province be, for once, about imagination.”

Read that, then think about it. Think hard. The problem with this province is not the elected governments – despite their puppet behaviour. The problem is us.

Oh, the big news on the last page of A is that free Wi-Fi is becoming popular in bars. Who could possibly care?
There's also another story that I wrote off at first, “Acadian filmmaker to attend film festival in France”. And I was wrong. The story turned out to be quite fascinating about a three-minute film that has made this Dieppe filmmaker a finalist in major competition. This sounds like a film I really want to see.

On Canada&World, B1, is the story of a Canadian journalist for al Jazeera who has been sentenced to three years of prison in Egypt. And what terrible thing did he do? He told the truth in a news report. Journalists and human rights advocates all over the world are calling for Harper to intervene in the case. Will Harper do so?

Not likely. He did, and still has done nothing for Omar Khadr who was, contrary to international laws, put into prison, tortured for years, illegally and farcically tried by a military court and sentenced to life. All of that was illegal under international and American law. Now, a Canadian reporter is in an Egyptian prison and, though he's a Canadian, is not likely to get much help from Stephen Harper. He was an arab-sounding name. And there's no votes in helping a Canadian with an arab-sounding name.

That's the story that is, as it should be, on page 1 of B section. But why did they then do it all over again on B3?

B4 has two, big stories on the dangers of fracking. Unfortunately, both lack adequate research, and both tiptoe around the subject.

There's one long but narrow story on Middle East and Africa refugees who are being denied entry by Hungary. Surprisingly, it doesn't have the much bigger story that both Germany and France have agreed to accept much larger numbers, Germany perhaps as many as a million. That's important news, and it's good news – particularly in light of Britain, Canada and the U.S. declining to be any help at all in this disaster they had a big hand in creating. And remember, the total number of refugees is probably in excess of 25 million. And nobody knows how many are dying of hunger, drowning, exposure, fear…..

And the wars in the Middle East go on, though it's hard to tell who's on which side or why. Al Quaeda has frequently had help from the U.S. - though it's listed as 'terrorist'. There's more than a little evidence that ISIS has had American help.

What these wars are about is control of the Middle East for its oil – the same oil that can destroy us and everybody else because it's the oil the oil industry is determined to continue no matter how many it kills and how much suffering it causes. It makes a good profit for the industry. And it's paid for by our taxes - which is great for corrupt arms billionaires.

****it was at this point that I stopped for some hours. What could I say? How can we understand what it being done in our names?

25 MILLION refugees have been created by us to hold up oil profits, even though those profits put us in grave danger from climate change. Helping some of those refugees is the right thing for Germany and France to do– though I greatly fear this will lead to another hysteria of quasi-racist violence in those countries.

Then there's over 20 million people in Yemen, starving and dying under a rain of American bombs dropped by the Saudi air force with a little help from American drones. And Canada has done its bit in Libya and Afghanistan, and is now doing a bit more in Iraq and Ukraine. We're doing our bit because we've allowed ourselves to become puppets in the American empire.

Prime Minister Lester Pearson over 50 years ago, for all his faults, saw this coming. That's why he worked so hard to develop a peace-keeping role for Canada – an attempt to develop an independent foreign policy, and to break the cycle of wars. But we gave that up a long time ago. Now, our armed forces are just the Hicksville branch of the U.S. military. And Harper is getting by as a blustering warrior for Ukraine and Israel when, in fact, he has done nothing for either of them.

Almost none of this makes the news.

What we are doing is insane. It's not just stupid. It's insane.

And now, we're playing games with threats of nuclear war. You won't find this in the Irving press, but this world has over 17,000 nuclear missiles. Firing even a tiny fraction of them would mean the end of the world. Nor would it help to shoot them down. In being shot down, they would still explode and bless us under intense radiation.

And even if there is no more war, the immense cost of military weaponry, just buying it, is creating a severe crisis in providing for social needs, especially in the U.S. That means more civic unrest, more destruction of democratic rights, more secret police, more jailing without charge or trial, more militarization of the police.

And we have done nothing whatever to deal with any of these issues. That's why I stopped writing for a time. In a world in which a big news story is the shooting of a Texas policeman or, perhaps, the front page story about how our vineyards are attracting more tourists, there's no interest in dealing with reality.


And that refusal to deal with reality is a definition of insanity.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 30:betcha never heard of Garda World

http://www.garda-world.com/

It's the world's biggest, privately owned "security" service. It does the usual security service stuff like providing guards for malls.  It also provides more advanced security for ventures like invading countries, killing people on whichever side isn't the one that's paying it - in short, it trains and supplies mercenaries.

Haven't heard of it? Gee, it's a big, Canadian company with its head offices in Montreal.  It creates jobs. It creates so many I'm surprised Moncton City Council hasn't offered it money to come here.

Harper generously sent them to Libya at the same time as Canada invaded Libya by bombing. (He also sent special forces as 'boots on the ground'.) Funny all that got mentioned in our news only on CBC and CTV.

Oh, and in sending these Canadian troops and aircraft and mercenaries, Canada was acting in violation of rulings by the UN security council. We were forbidden by the United Nations to invade Libya with any of our military, and forbidden to supply mercenaries.  Harper did it, anway. But none of this ever made the Irving press.

Harper spent almost a million dollars in celebrating the valour of our troops which did so much to make Libya a land of peace and security.  Well, actually, it's been a horror of chaos ever since then. But some day, I'm sure, things will get  better.

Then we'll have to invade again.
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http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/28/edward-snowden-fbi-norway-extradite-julian-assange

In the above story, the U.S. government asked the Scandinavian countries, especially Norway, to arrest Snowdon immediately and deport him to the U.S. for trial if he should get into one of their countries. Snowden is an evil man because he told the world how the nice, U.S. government was torturing and killing all over the world.

Actually, it would have been illegal to deport him because it would deprive him of a right to make his case to a Scandinavian court, first. So the Scandinavian courts never replied to the U.S. request. And the Irving press never mentioned it, anyway.

As a matter worth noting, the U.S. government has been chasing down people like Snowden to punish them for telling the truth.  But not a single person involved in torture or murder for the American government has ever been arrested - or ever will be. In the same way, George Bush walks freely, and gets hundreds of thousands of dollars for giving a 20 minute speech. This is the same George Bush who should be charged  with war crimes even greater than those of Saddam Hussein - who got hanged for his.

Not only has the Irving press had no mention of all this, but it doesn't even have a staff writer capable of writing on this for a commentary.
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Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has asked Saudi Arabia to stop using cluster bombs in Yemen. Bombs of this sort will be killing people, especially children,  for years after the war ends. The Saudis get the cluster bombs from the peace-loving U.S.

Have you ever read this in the Irving press?
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The International Physicians for prevention of Nuclear War has completed a study of the number of people killed by the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan and in its good friend, Pakistan. The U.S. official number is about 160,000. Not so, say the physicians.

Their findings show the dead to be at least 1.3 million with a likelihood the real number is at least double that. Good friend Pakistan has suffered at least 80,000 dead by the U.S. Can't say I've read a word about that in the Irving press.
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And we've heard very little about what is happening in the middle east - and Europe.

Half of the Syrian population has fled its homes. Twelve million are now refugees. There is no figure for how many have died from hunger, lack of medical care, drowning. Whole families, many with children barely old enough to walk, have to walk hundreds of kilometres to try to escape the horror - and there is no escape. And you can add to their millions the people of Lebanon, of Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and the Palestinians who live in a country that is really a prison. But there is no escape for any of them.

Nobody in the middle east will accept them. At best, they can get away with sleeping in parks. More commonly they're shut up in makeshift, insanitary prison camps where many of them die. Of those who get to a coast, thousands die in unsafe and overloaded boats, their bodies washing ashore every day as reminders.

Those who do land in Europe find themselves greeted by armed troops, prison camps, razor-barbed wire. Any help they get is commonly voluntary. But any help is unlikely. British troops guard the British coast so that only 1% of those who get there are ever permitted to land. There is no significant help from Canada or the U.S. And no hope of it.

The pressure in Europe is breeding hatred that we got a hint of when an French tabloid published hateful (and childish) cartoons of Muhammed - and we Christians hailed that gutter rag for its courage in exercising freedom of speech.

There is an explosion of hatred and abuse building in Europe. But don't worry. Read the Irving press, and you won't even know about it.

The hysteria has spread here to the U.S. and Canada where we spend billions to destroy our own democracy. (Oh, I know, I know. 9/11. terrible. So it was. The U.S., in retaliation, has killed millions, destroyed whole nations, and left more millions in hunger, poverty, and despair.) Donald Trump has built on that hysteria to demand a wall between Mexico and the U.S. But he's thinking small.

Governor Scott of Wisconsin yesterday proposed a wall between the U.S. and Canada. That would be
over 8,000 kilometres, and a new record for human construction, far longer than the Great Wall of China.

Will the Irving press have that story tomorrow? I doubt it. If it does, will it have a commentary or editorial on it? Not a chance.
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In the midst of this chaos, the whole world has changed. As a child in school, I saluted a British flag, and swore allegiance to the  king.  Now, classes stand in silence to "O Canada" played on a scratchy PA system. But it doesn't matter because Canada has effectively vanished. And the Queen is queen of a British nation that is now a puppet state for the U.S.  Canada and all of western Europe are in the same position, though with Germany maintaining top status as a U.S. satellite in Europe.

If we have any allegiance now, it's to international bankers who have become so powerful, they are effectively the governments of impoverished states like Greece and Ukraine. And they are free to ignore the law even in the U.S. where, when they went broke because of their own dodgy and illegal practices, were able to make the taxpayers pay their bills. And they faced no prosecution or even charges for their behaviour. That's quite a contrast to what they did to Greece and Ukraine when they broke.

The story was that the banks and trust companies were too big to go broke.  In fact, Iceland let them go broke, and even pressed charges against some. And Iceland is doing fine. No company is too big to allow it to go broke. But the reality is that they are so big they can corrupt our governments --- and most of our political leaders and all of our news media won't tell us that.
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American foreign policy, which we follow like trained dogs, is one of the great disasters of human history. And American foreign policy is designed to meet the wishes of the very wealthy. That's why millions are refugees, or starving, or living in fear, or being killed by us.

A twisted and mindlessly greedy form of capitalism which has no moral standards whatever has been allowed to run wild with virtually no legal controls, and no need to pay any attention to what controls do exist. That's why there is so much poverty and misery  and violence in Africa, the Middle East, South America, so much of the same threatening in Europe and Asia, and so much hysteria in Canada and the U.S.

It is not 'terrorists' who are the greatest threat to us. It is the determination of the American wealthy to rule the world - what they call 'American Exceptionalism'.  It's really a far greater terrorism than any other we face.  At the root of it is the lack of any sense of morality in the very rich all over the world. And without some morality, we destroy everyone, including us.

And only we, if we have the moral courage, can put a stop to it.

Think about that next time you're enjoying the special music and the coffee and fellowship in the barn at the Irving Chapel.





Saturday, August 29, 2015

August 29:Be patient. The major part of this comes...

....after a brief bit about how ghastly the local newspaper is.

If you really, really care that the New Brunswick legislature will be offering a new beer to visiting dignataries, that plastic surgery is popular in N.B., or that the town of Sackvile has cancelled its big hat party in celebration of the Queen, then section A news will be your cup of tea.

The only time I've come across such limp news was yesterday, listening to Moncton radio station 94.5. The news consisted, as I remember, of two items – somebody got sent to jail for something, and somebody didn't go to jail. Private radio in general has become pretty awful in the last ten or fifteen years. But 94.5 is so bad, I wondered whether it might be an Irving station.

Canada&World has only 8 pages, with four of them ads. Of the remaining four, two pages are still about Moncton - with the exception of one story that's about a girl in Alberta. (She takes marijuana to treat epilepsy. The news YOU need to know.)

The three stories on B3 tell us nothing whatever. The biggest one is about a rumour that Canadian jet fighter-bombers killed some civilians in Iraq. But the Irving press has no idea whether it's true.
Well, it's nice, at least, that our news is at last mentioning we're at war in Iraq. As for killing civilians, it would be amazing if they weren't killed. Every war since at least 1914 gas killed masses of civilians. That's the nature of modern war. With modern weapons, it can't be avoided. And, in any case, it's routinely done on purpose by every modern military I've ever heard of.

Another “must-know” story is on B6. A poll in the U.S. shows that the millenial generation ( the one that is currently the annoying one) gets angry at spelling and grammar mistakes – the women more so than the men. Beside it is the fast-breaking news that an 'elite' grad of an 'elite' school in New Hampshire is guilty of molesting an 'elite' girl. (The “elite” school has yearly fees of over $50,000. New Hampshire is in the U.S. which, I'm informed, is the land of equal opportunity for fall.)

So much for Canada&World. No news editor could possibly be dumb enough to think the news in this paper is any news at all. This is deliberate. The purpose of news selections in the Irving press is to keep us ignorant of what is happening. It's quite deliberate. It's obviously deliberate.

In local stories, there are two I would be very interested to see – but I know that I never shall.

1. Why did Irving Ltd. pay a huge settlement in the Lac Megantic disaster case, the one in which almost 50 people were killed, and a town largely destroyed? Nobody pays a big settlement like that unless there is a strong possibility of a serious charge of responsibility for the deaths and destruction.

If I were a drunk driver, and killed people on the road, I'm quite sure I wouldn't get the option of paying a settlement. Why does big business have that option?

Irving oil trains go through this province routinely. If it poses risks, shouldn't we know what they are or how they happened?

This case smells. And the biggest smell comes from the Irving press.

2. A young man carrying combat-style rifles (semi-automatic with large magazines) killed three police officers in Moncton.
Where did he get those rifles?
Why are such rifles allowed to be sold? They're inferior for target shooting. They're a poor choice for hunting unless you have too kill a whole herd of a hundred of moose, and have only ten minutes to do it
Why did Harper destroy the gun registry, depriving the police of knowledge of who owns such weapons?

In Moncton stores today, such guns are very available. You can also, quite easily, buy a Glock semi-automatic pistol in Moncton, a gun useful only for killing people at short range. I'm astonished at the number of guns for sale in this city that are essentially designed to kill people, or that are designed to look military so they can attract those gun-buyers who are 25 going on 10.

Why didn't the Irving press do a full report on this? Why didn't the municipal and provincial governments demand a full report? Why do the people and the newspaper of Moncton put up signs saying they love their police, and build monuments to them when they won't lift a finger to give them the help that could have saved three lives?

Get ready for more of this killing. Harper has really encouraged the gun market in Canada. Given time, he'll catch us up to the U.S. A very serious change is happening in Canada.

Moncton! Will you please wake up?
The editorial says nothing.

Norbert Cunningham has an interesting column on maritime union. It's an old issue – but it really should be looked at again.

Brent Mazerolle has his usual, pointless column, this time about how he likes some animals and insects, but finds other yuckie-poo.

There's an excellent column by the President of the New Brunswick Medical Society, and the Minister of Health. It deals with the coming crisis of health care for seniors. It's important; but few will realize that because the column is much too long. Relatively few people will read a long column unless it has long breaks and is trivial – like Anne Landers. That's too bad, because this is important.

And Gwynne Dyer drops a bombshell. It's about the Chinese recession, and the effect it's going to have on all of us. I don't doubt that he's right. Capitalism never produces a stable economy. It never has. The history of capitalism is a history of prosperity, frequent recessions, and, less often, depressions.

And that's in the lucky countries like Canada and the U.S. In other countries, like Guatemala and Congo, the history of capitalism is marked by eternal brutality, hunger, lack of education or medical care, poverty, and short lives. (–-though the capitalists, themselves, normally remain prosperous even in the most severe times.)

Dyer's column is blunt; it's important; and it's well-written. Luckily, a recession won't affect Moncton because we'll have a new hockey rink.
And now a kind word for the Faith Page, C4. The sermonette is by Brett Annington, Chaplain at UNB – and the only columnist on the Faith Page I have ever found to be worth reading. His style is light, conversational, journalistically effective, and intelligent.

This time, it's about how much the world has changed since his childhood. And, oh, it has. And Canada has changed. The government has used the RCMP as domestic spies for at least a century. But Canadians, until now, have never tolerated the breadth and depth of government spying that we now see. Canadians, as well, have never been so propagandized into quasi-racial hatreds and fears since World Wars One and Two. We've never before seen such trivialization of news media. I've never before seen a generation of teen-agers so lacking in interest in anything intellecual, so accustomed to passive “hanging-out”.

And there's the huge change in communications so that so many on earth can be in touch instantly for email – or for nuclear bombs. Distance has almost ceased to have meaning. Separate countries no long separate people. What happens in China has a profound effect on our lives, and has it immediately.

We really can no longer be a world of separate countries.

Nor did we begin as one. The first civilizations were developed in cities (though usually much smaller than cities of today). Living so close to each other and so dependent on each other, they had to form some sort of government. And so developed the city-state like Athens or Sparta. With the cities so powerful, they attacked smaller settlement and rural regions, tying them together, often out of greed, but in the process making all dependent on each other, and therefore needing a common government. So developed the nation-state.

The nation -states were ruled, usually, by dictators that we called kings who with their aristocracies, wanted more wealth to be gained by conquering empires which, necessarily, involved fighting others who were playing the same game. World Wars One and Two had a lot more to do with empires than with democracy and freedom. But the increasing destruction as we learned how to get closer to each other by such things as ocean-going ships, and aircraft, raised fears that wars were becoming impossible. The two world wars became, in their way, the guide to the next stage – the world-state.

That was noticed as early as 1919 with the founding of the League of Nations, and again in 1945 with the United Nations. But both have failed. And both were intended to fail.

They failed because the major powers had no intention of accepting a power greater than theirs. The major reason they wouldn't was because the major powers depended on their, individual, power in order to become more powerful. They needed it because of their competitive economic systems (capitalism and communism). And they continued to need power after the fall of communism because all the major powers now became based on oligarchies of the wealthy who needed the station-state to exist under their control to serve the ambitions of the very wealthy.

That accounts for the rise of American Exceptionalism, a title that really means rule of the whole world by the United States. That's why Vietnam and Iraq and Guatemala and Libya and Panama and Syria and Yemen have been under attack. That's why some in the U.S. want a war with Russia. That's why the U.S. maintains the largest fleet in history in the Pacific off the China coast. That's why the U.S. satellite, Japan, is being encouraged by the U.S. to rearm. That's why Canada is showing its satellite status in Iraq today. That's why Canadian sent troops to Afghanistan. It takes a huge military force to conquer the world.

Can it be done? Almost certainly not. At best, it would lead to constant revolt and warfare all over the world. More likely, it would mean a scale of murder and destruction so great that no country could continue to function even as a nation-state.

And, even if it did work, the individual greed of the oligarchs (who prefer to be called capitalists, even entrepreneurs) would create a wage gap (as they are doing now) which destroy their own markets, and make capitalism (by whatever name you call it) impossible.

Individualism can be a very good quality. But the direction of the world for the last several thousand years, at least, has been toward community. Communication of goods and money has created the city-state, then the nation-state, and now the world-state as a necessity

It's made even more so by the world-wide ease of war and destruction demanded by oligarchs. ( Okay, call them capitalists if you want, but their brand of capitalism is very, very twisted.)

And this brings me back to what started me – Brett Addington's sermonette.

The world has changed. It has changed a great deal since we were kids. We're now at the stage of the world-state. What we do, how people live, what standards we have affect everybody. Nobody in the world can escape our interdependence. And that interdependence needs a world government. But the oligarchs of our nation states won't allow that. Their only solution is imperialism and war. We have to decide. 

However, I fear there's been another big change in our world, a loss of something we needed.

There's been a wide collapse of religion – except in extreme and unhelpful forms. In fact, it has long become a partner of the oligarchs and a justifier of the killing and exploitation.

If you read most of the faith page, religion is all about pancake breakfasts or special music or getting yourself into heaven (the hell with the rest.) But that's not what religion is about.

It's about setting moral standards of behaviour – setting them our survival and the survival of our children. I'm by no means a Bible thumper. But read the Christian gospels, the Jewish Talmud and the Torah. Read the teaching of Muhammed or Confucius or almost any other religion.

Almost all are practical guides to the way a society has to behave in order to live. They aren't just about dying and going to heaven. They're about how we must live if we are to survive.

I don't know much about the others. But the Christian world has certainly paid no attention to that. It's gone over to babbling about miracles or walking on golden streets, or giggling at the thought that those people you don't like will burn in hell.

In short, to survive, we need morality. We don't have a hell of a lot of that. We have an economic system based on greed, and conquest and killing. The only significant political party in Canada that has its origins in morality is the NDP. It was begun by religious leaders who formed a party based on moral standards like love thy neighbour. It was called the CCF, and is now the NDP. And the NDP still retains many of the motives of its youth as the CCF. (Though I could wish for more.)

Admittedly, the churches were getting pretty wobbly on morality even when I was a kid. But it's become worse – except in emphasizing a few things that will get you – personally – onto a good cloud in heaven where you can, for the rest of eternity, get a good view of God and clap hands for Jesus..

What the world desperately needs in the move from city-state to nation-state to world-state is a conciousness that we all have this life in common – just as such a realization was necessary at the city and nation stage.


But that needs a sense of morality. We aren't getting it from our oligarchs. And we aren't getting it from most of our religions.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

August 27: And not too late to send me an expensive birthday gift.

Forgive me for I have sinned. Friends told me (how wise they were) to write my column in Word or something similar so I could finish it, then copy it to the blog site - rather than losing it by writing it on the blog site.

Which I just did. And lost it after three hours of writing. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

The day began badly. I was changing for a swim when a stranger in the locker room glared at me, and burst into a tirade about a fired reporter who had murdered another reporter and a camerman - on camera. He seem so upset and so angry at me that I wondered if the story had said I was the killer.

As news this is cheap and worthless, in a class those awful tabs in the supermarket that have headlines like "Royal baby is pregnant! Prince Phillip flees country!" I can only assume people buy that rubbish so they won't have to think. Anyway, it made me eager finish my swim, get home, and read the real news in the Irving press.

Their big story was the lead headline on B1 of the Canada&World News section.  It was  "Fired reporter films himself killing 2 ex-colleagues on television."

Let's get real. 1. a great many people died all over the world yesterday. Some were killed by American bombs. Some starved to death because of a Saudi blockade on food. But they didn't make the news.   2. This happened in Virginia . So what are we supposed to do about it? Refuse to appear on TV if there's an insane gunman on the set?

It's a sad story. But it's utterly of no value to us. There's nothing we can do about it. This isn't "World News".  It's tabloid sensationalism of no use whatever. But it's the big World News story in the Irving press.

If anything, this suggests an editor who has nothing but contempt for the readers. And you can see the same sort of thing on A3. " Guitar and amp repairs are a growing business in Moncton."  "Man jailed for breaking into and trashing home."  "Judge releases man arrested after gun call."

There are a few things worth reading. On A1 is "Job cuts fly in face of recommendations, Provincial Teacher's Association say." This is worth knowing - and it could have used a bit of research by the reporter.  Education in New Brunswick has some bigger problems than other regions. One is the  size of the rural population, a setting that does not encourage intellectual curiosity - thus the high rate of illiteracy.

Then there's poverty because poverty and social class create huge difficulties for learning. A child can be a bozo and still graduate from an 'elite' private school, and then get a good job working for daddy. It's a lot tougher in public schools which don't have as much money as the 'elite' ones. New Brunswick should be spending more, not less, on  its public education and on adult education. It has good teachers - indeed, they're a hell of a lot better than the politicians and the very rich who take far more than they give.

But, oh, we have to cut education - so we can borrow a hundred million for a new hockey rink.
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I'm late on this, so we'll start with what's good in the paper. Norbert is solid in a column on climate change, and the need to protect Moncton - something the city council doesn't seem to have thought of. He suggests improvements to drainage of the river, improvements which could avoid a billion and more of flood damage. And they would cost less than a hundred million.

Nah. Our city council thinks big - like over a hundred million for a hockey rink. If there's a flood, we could all go to stand in the rink - unless it floods, too.

There's a good commentary by Gerard Adams (CEO of Worksafe NB) about the dangers of speeding in construction areas

Alec Bruce has one "Our dwindling democracy" that I thought at the start was as distasteful and useless as Rod Allen's column. But I got quite a surprise just over half-way through. I had been fooled by the light, writing style. But that draws the reader in all the way to an important conclusion.
This is a must-read.
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But it's getting late and, covered in remorse, I have to finish this. So I'll skip to a very broad summary of what, I think, is happening to the world.

For five hundred years, the western powers, largely at the command of capitalists, has been murdering and looting all over the world. In the process, it has destroyed social structures and cultures and sent whole nations, whole regions, into chaos.

Thus, the rise and fall of communism, the horrors of repeated civil wars (often assisted by the capitalists), the fears for the future. Thus a United States, suffering a poverty and disorder our news media rarely mention, which has to spend more money for 'defence' than all the rest of the world put together, which boasts the largest number of billionaires in the world, but which cannot feed or house millions of its own people. It also, like its victims, is suffering a severe and possibly terminal social breakdown as a result of the lack of interest of the very rich in what happens to it.

Historically, the rich have needed the poor largely to fight their wars that make the rich richer. Thus we sing of the Queen, "Make her victorious, happy and glorious," And we drag in God as in 'God bless America' as a sort of incentive.

Why do we accept this? Currently,   it's done by hatred and fear - as Hitler raised his following. That's the real purpose of our spy services and most of our news media, the latter using loaded language in words such as terrorist when what the terrorists are   doing is no different from what we are doing.

It works. When the bodies of Canadian dead came back from Afghanistan, they were carried along what the press called the 'highway of heroes', and otherwise sensible Canadians lined up to pay a tribute that was really a glorification of war.  Apparently, it never occured to them or to our news media to ask why they had to die. We have since sent more to risk death - and we shall probably risk many more in the near future without asking - "Why?"

Hatred, fear, and an excessive pride of nation has taken us through fifteen years of wars with much more to come. If we really remembered our dead - if we really cared - we would ask why, and ask it before more are killed.

In this process, the nation-state itself is a casualty. In the rush to uncontrolled capitalism, the nation-state is becoming irrelevant.   Free trade deals now are so very free that we are surrendering control of our own nations so that  uncontrolled capitalism can ignore legislation that should protect what is left of our environment, and what is left of our society.

And wen I write what is left of our society, I mean that our cultures - like those of old China, of the Middle East, of Latin America,like those of our native peoples - are being destroyed by an uncontrolled distortion of capitalism. In the U.S., democracy is gone, faith in both Republicans and Democrats is largely gone. and many, many Americans no longer even vote.

Canada is a very different place from the one I grew up in. I was born in depression, but grew up in a Canada that looked with confidence and enthusiasm to an ever better future.  Only a fool could have that confidence in a Harper future.

We now live in a Canada in which big money owns most of our governments, and owns almost all the news media that should be giving us the information we need.

The only reason big money needs the nation-state now is to pay for and to fight its wars. And even that is coming to an end as armies are privatized.

In 500 years of government at the service of a greedy and irresponsible capitalism, we have destroyed almost every culture on earth - including our own. We have created suffering and starvation and civil unrest everywhere in the world. We are about to see serious civil unrest in Europe. If allowed to go on, this will destroy us - and capitalism. But the capitalists who run loose are too greedy to understand that.

There is no point in voting Liberal or Conservative or Republican or Democrat. These parties are all stooges of big money. They have created the suffering and killing that has destablized the whole world.

We have to turn to political parties that really represent us, parties that have a sense of what a future can be for us. I don't know of any federal government in Canadian history that has been such a government. We need to reclaim our own country, and our own destinies.

I don't think the NDP goes far enough, not nearly far enough. But if it did go far enough, it wouldn't get any votes because we have never been encouraged to think of what Canada is and what its future can be, (and the billionaire-owned news media would turn with a vengeance on anyone who dared to question where we are going.

I'm going to vote for the NDP not because I entirely agree with it. I don't entirely agree with it. But it's the closest we can come to planning a future for us rather than for billionaires as the Conservatives and Liberals have been doing for 150 years.

And that's what's    really happening in the world.
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And so to bed.








Wednesday, August 26, 2015

August 26: Lies and damn lies

I am not familiar with the site I post below. It was sent to me by a reader - and I send it on because it shows a high degree of experience in military matters, and it is the only credible explanation I have ever seen of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 that was shot down over Ukraine, with the killing of all aboard.

This happened over a year ago. Scientific experts have been examining the wreckage for a year, and say that they have not yet determined the cause of the crash. I cannot believe that. There was a photo that appeared even in the Irving press. It showed lines of parallel rows of machine gun (or possibly 20mm) aircraft fire. There can be no  doubt whatever about that.

One also wonders why the airline would have directed a civilian flight to pass over a war zone - Ukraine. It was flying over territory held by Russo-rebels against the Kyev government. But it is not possible the aircraft was hit by ground fire. The bullet holes are on the upper part of the wing and the side of the fuselage. Bullets fired from the ground would have had to shoot higher than such guns have ever shot, would have had to pass the plane, then would have had to turn down to plunge into the wing. Not possible.

No. The shooting came from an aircraft.

Obama, as soon as it happened, announced the airliner had been shot down by Russian rebels on the ground. That's not possible. And, if, a year later, experts can't decide how it was shot down, how come Obama, on the other side of the world, could tell immediately how it was shot down, and who did it?

In fact, the American government has never presented any evidence for its accusation. The site below is the only credible explanation of that mass murder I have ever seen.

http://thesaker.is/

Would the American government do such a thing? Yes, it would, and without a second thought. It has already done such a thing at least twice, both little reported. Some years ago, an American warship in the Meditteranean shot down an Iranian civil airliner, killing all aboard. Not long after, it hired a Cuban exile to blow up a  Cuban civil airliner. That man was protected from any prosecution and, last I heard, was living in Florida.

Why would the U.S. government do such a thing? Well, in the case of the Malayasian airliner, we can start with Pearl Harbour. Why did the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour in 1941? The official explanation to this day is that the Japanese were evil and treacherous, and that Pearl Harbour would go down in history as an evil and treacherous act for no reason at all. And that is the way it has gone down in school history texts. And it's not true.

The Japanese were certainly cruel in war. However, I  have never heard of countries that were not cruel in war. Cruelty is sort of the general idea in war. But, the Japanese knew that attacking Pearl Harbour was a desparate throw of the dice. So why did they do it?

They did it because the U.S.  (illegally) placed an embargo on all shipments of oil to Japan, from any country. Japan could not possibly accept that. It had no oil resources of its own. And, without oil, it could not maintain its attack on China, or even maintain normal, civil life in Japan. Lack of oil was probably the biggest, single factor in the 1945 defeats of Germany and Japan.

So why did the U.S. put an embargo on Japanese oil? To  help China? Not likely. The U.S. was in bed with Chiang-kai Shek, a murderous dictator of China. It didn't want Japan to conquer China because US business wanted to conquer China for its own profit, and the collapse of the European powers was its big chance to get control of the Chinese market.

In short, President Roosevelt wanted Japan to give him an excuse to declare war on it, something the American people would accept.  That's standard practice all over the world. That's why national history books for the schools of just about every country will tell you they never started a war on anybody. No. It was the other side that attacked them. Every time. So it is that the U.S. has gone to war, often without declaring it, well over 200 times. But never once did the U.S. start it. In fact, Obama announced just yesterday that Venezuela is a threat to the U.S. Yep. Just another of those small and poor countries that are forever threatening the U.S. Just like Haiti and Costa Rica and Yemen and Vietnam and Iraq. They just won't leave the poor U.S. alone.  Bullies. That's what they are.

The other excuse, used by both Britain and U.S. - and many others - is God.

As Kipling wrote, it was God's will for Britain to bring Christianity to Africa and Asia, and God's will that justified it to murder and loot in both. And Kipling embraced the U.S. for its religious mission in invading the Philippines to murder and torture until the people of the Philippines would become as civilized as the U.S.  Check out Kipling's poem
"Take up the White Man’s burden—
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go send your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need
To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child
Take up the White Man’s burden
In patience to abide
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit
And work another’s gain
Take up the White Man’s burden—
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah slowly) to the light:
"Why brought ye us from bondage,
“Our loved Egyptian night?”
Take up the White Man’s burden-
Have done with childish days-
The lightly proffered laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years,
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!"

This philosophy has long been supported by the churches. In the U.S. it's very strong among funadmentalist Protestants who are great admirers of the concept of American Exceptionalim - meaning the destiny of the U.S. to rule the world.


So - it's quite possible, even likely, that the shooting down of that Malaysian airliner was engineered by the U.S. That's why it was told to fly over a war zone. That's why those people died. That's why Obama immediately announed Russian-Ukrainians had done it. This was the Pearl Harbour he needed to justify a war on Russia.

And why didn't the war happen?

It's possible that the American military (wisely) is not so enthusiastic about a war with Russia.
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As you might guess from all the above, there's nothing much in the Irving press to talk about - or even to read.

There is one, excellent world news story on B4. It's starts with the much-reported ISIS destruction of ancient sites. What makes this story better than the others is that in the others it's presented as though this sort of behaviour was committed only by ISIS - or even just by Muslims. For a change, this one has some eye-openers about the destruction and/or looting of historic sites by all sorts of people - including prominent Christians.

There's another good story - but with a bad headline - at the top of B1. The headline is a hymn of praise to the Energy East Pipeline. But the story is different - though you have to read the whole thing to get that. In particular, the story says that the environmental problems are nowhere close to being settled - and that even if the deal goes through, it won't mean all that much to New Brunswick.

Headline writing is not really difficult. But it does require a modicum of intelligence - and honesty
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There's really not much to talk about in Section A, and the opinion and  commentaries are severely local and bellty-button gazing. In that category, but still well worth reading, is a commentary on affordable housing in New Brunswick by Sue Calhoun who is with the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee.

Otherwise, both local and world news are hidden under piles of trivia. That's worrisome in both cases. Local news enables us to understand how our communities work (or don't work). Giving a huge amount of space to a story about people who buy their beer in Quebec isn't a big help.

As for the rest of the world, we have to realize that it's not far away any more. An airliner shot down a years ago could  have become a death sentence for Moncton. It still could. What is happening in the Middle East and Ukraine could mean a strong demand for more war memorials in Victoria Park.

More than ever, we need to know. More than ever we need to know the truth.
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I have lots of other material. But I'll save it for tomorrow.














Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 24: An apology...

I missed yesterday's blog because life became chaotic for the day. I  didn't need the world's chaos to add to it.

Luckily, I found only one column in the August 24 paper worth reading. It was Steve Malloy's column. At first, I thought it a waste of time; but that was the fault of a really bad headline by the editor, "NB should beware the danger of addictive drugs". I thought that sounded, at best, trite. However, Malloy's column is much, much better than that. I strongly advise reading it.

The editorial, as usual, takes the gold medal for brainlessness. It's an orgy of ecstasies about the opening of a new pizzeria on Mountain Road.

Something has to be done about these editorials. I have never seen such consistently  trivial, mindless, pointless and brainless editorials.

Except for Steve Malloy, there is no reason to read the August 24 edition.
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For the August 25 issue ( just two days before my birthday for late shoppers), I thought an article by Prof. Don Savoie of U de Moncton might be worth reading. I was wrong.

He says that government power is too centralized in Ottawa, a trend he dates back to Pierre Trudeau. And this, with New Brunswick's small population, means it really has no voice in Ottawa.

Certainly, Canada is considerably centralized in its government. But it has been since 1867. It was designed that way.  Canada, from the start, was essentially a creation to serve big business. 0r put it on hold for years. As for the Senate representing regions, that's largely a fiction, and always has been. The Senate was created to make sure the wealthy, who have always been protected by a centralized Canada, can relax, knowing that if Canadians elect a government that is too enthusastic about doing thngs for us ordinary Canadians the senate turkeys appointed by the previous government can block it, at least for a time.

Canadian democracy does have some very serious problems with its democracy - the illegitimate power exercised by the very wealthy, the failure of most Canadians to give political issues any serious thought, the lying and propaganda of most of our newspapers, the failure of academics to look at these problems....

There is a not very thoughtul article on A7 about Moncton's small, Ukrainian population celebrating Ukraine's national day. There's no reason why we shouldn't. But the tone of the article conveys an image of a Ukraine that doesn't exist. Ukraine is not, for example, fighting for autonomy. The fighting is a civil war, and it was provoked by the U.S. for reasons that had nothing to do with autonomy. And its government has been a tool of international bankers and speculators to strip the country of everything that makes life possible. They have impoverished it.

As well, the country has a prominent Nazi party which is or was in league with the government, and which, in World War Two was a servant of Hitler in rounding up Jews for extermination.

The opinion and commentary pages start badly.  The editorial is the usual nothing. And Norbert, who can be good,  just cannot shake some of his village square, tobacco-chewing and spitting political thinking.

His frequent misuse of the word 'bureaucrat' is an exsample. Itwas not originally a term of contempt. A bureaucrat is a person to does the administrative work of government, and it usually means someone at a high level. Some bureaucrats, (like some journalists),  have been arrogant, uncaring and inneffective. These are characteristics you will find in any group of humans. (even billionaires, perhaps especially billionaires.)

The origin of bureaucrat as a swear word was with big business which didn't like government controls, and journalists who like to write columns that rich people like to read. In fact, the most orderly period of Canadian history was through World War Two and into the 1950s when centralization and bureaucracy in government were most provounced. That gave us a long period of development and growth of services - until big business took over to destroy government bureaucracy and the economy.

In fact, those who use bureaucracy as a swear word define it as meaning indifference to the needs of the people.  Well, if  you want to name those in our society who are indifferent to the needs of the people, try these three - Liberals, Conservatives, and billionaires.

Allan Cochrane has nothing to say about the Magnetic Hill concert. So he says nothing for half a page, assisted by a large photo that says nothing.

But then - an excellent Seniority rules column by Louise Gilbert on the importance of activity - gardening, artistic endeavours, writing - for seniors. She's right. That's why I do this blog. (I also tried painting, though with mixed reviews.)

And, right after that, a superb column by Alec Bruce on early schooling. This is a must read. Our public schools began in Scotland - largely to teach reading and, in particular, to teach reading of The Bible since Scottish Protestants were moving from the Catholic belief in simply submitting to the authority of the church and on to a belief one should read The Bible, and develop one's own understanding.

It was expanded in the nineteenth century to produce minimally knowledgeable factory workers. In fact, it was modelled on factories with their assembly lines, bells, marching in order - and it is still largely a creature of the 1920s - though quality of teaching is now far, far higher. But the system needs serious rethinking. One of the areas for such rethinking is early childhood - pre-kindergarten.
It does a great deal to keep more children in school and produce more graduates ready for employment and/or high education.

This is an outstanding column.
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There's a masterpiece of news that tells us nothing on B1. "Major hurdle cleared for Energy East pipeline." In brief, gas delivery companies have been assured that the Energy East Pipeline will not affect their profits. And to be extra sure, the Canadian government will give natural gas customers a hundred million dollar rate reduction.

It doesn't say what it means by natural gas customers. Companies that buy natural gas to sell it to the public? Or does it mean us public?

Where's the hundred million coming from?

What does this have to do with the safety of natural gas or of oil pipelines?

The incentives  will run for another 35 years. So - we're aiming to be still using fossil fuels on a large scale for at least another 35 years? That sounds like a pretty casual approach when it is possible we are at or even past the date of no return.

Premier Gallant is all excited that this is good news for New Brunswick because "..it looks to the energy sector for economic security in the future."

Wonderful. And what will we do for human survival?

Perhaps the biggest story, also on B1, is that a man accused of killing a state trooper in New Orleans may also have killed his roommate.  Why did the editor think that his was important for us people to know? There are more important stories out there, and the whole Canada&World section is only 6 pages.

B3 carries on the editor's taste for picking stories using a pointer while blindfolded. The U.K. is issuing new rules after an airshow crash. The Ashley Madison data is taking a toll on families all over the world. On B5, a California priest get 6 months for sexual abuse of a female passenger during a flight. (In fairness that could be useful for male clery who are looking for new forms of kindy sex.) This is all trivia and sensationalism.

The last page of section B has the story of how our good friends in Saudi Arabia have executed 175 people in the past year. Most were by beheading. But cutting off  hands so people bleed to death is also popular. Usually, the papers mention this only when ISIS is doing the killing.

Generally, though, the news - all of it - is trivia.
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What's happening in Yemen? It's a poor country. And it hasn't been invading anybody I've heard of. So why has the U.S. been drone-bombing it for years. killing unknown thousands? Why is Saudi Arabia now bombing and starving a whole nation to death? Why is the U.S. supplying the bombs? Are the people of of Yemen threatening to invade the U.S.? Or Saudi Arabia? Most of the dead are civilians. And that's going to get much worse.

These are actions that are in defiance of the UN, of international law, and disgusting by any standard of decency. What's happening is a genocide that may rise to the level of Hitler's holocaust. Why are war criminals like Bush, Blair, and  Obama walking free?

And Canada is a part of this. Canada has not said a word of criticism. Canada has not used the UN for the purposes it was designed to serve.

Though one would never guess it from the Irving press,  it was the West that created the whole mess that is the Middle East. It was Britain, that created Saudi Arabia into a nation, and made a royal family out of bandit cutthroats. It was the US and Britain that destroyed democracy in Iran to get control of its oil. It was the U.S. that destroyed Egypt's brief fling at democracy. It was the west - the whole west - that planted Israel in the middle east, displacing and impoverishing Palestinians without ever doing anything to help them. How generous of us to give away land that wasn't ours!

It was the U.S. that created and supplied what we now call terrorist groups to overthrow the government of Syria. It was the U.S. that destroyed Iraq so thoroughly that it may never recover. It was the US, with Canadian help, that turned Libya into a hell on earth. Over a century of exploitation, plundering, killing, destroying by us is what created ISIS.

And now it is drawing in Russia (on the U.S. side, I think) which is moving in to help fight ISIS because Muslim 'extremism' is now a threat to Russia, as well. We have made the whole Middle East a humanitarian disaster...and there's much worse to come as the various nations and groups fight it out to control the region. And Israel has nuclear bombs.

And it's all for the oil whose use can only destroy us. It's all for the oil because oil is the world's major source of profit. There is no other reason for these wars - just to make profits for monster oil companies that don't give a damn about how many people they kill or how they do it.

This is insane.

We're living in a time in which democracy has largely ceased to exist. It's a world in which the nation-state is ceasing to function, and a world in which the concept of the United Nations has long been in collapse.

Where is the news, at any level, of governments dealing with the very serious problems that face us - climate change with its destructive effects on our forests, life species, on fresh water, on food supply for a world already short of food. Even at the local level, virtually nothing is being done, nothing is being planned, nothing is even being mentioned.

Add to those the fact we live in an economic system that allows big money to run wild. It's now exploring the Arctic Circle for minerals, drilling and dynamiting what is already the most fragile part of this earth. There, as in Central America and Africa (and, I expect, China and Russia) we're destroying what we can never fix.

Add to that the wage gap. Almost everybody on earth is getting poorer while a tiny handful get richer. You don't need to be an economic genius to figure out where this will take us.

But, not to worry. Just relax, open your Irving paper, and read about which aging rock star has a birthday today.







Sunday, August 23, 2015

August 23:There are none so blind....

....as those who will not see.

For over 80 years, war has meant the mass slaughter of civilians. It's the result of using weapons that cannot be precise killers -   bombs, drones, napalm, agent orange.... And it's also the result of the decision that killing civilians has proven an effective method of winning a war.

To that we are now adding robot war. Drones whose pilots are thousands of miles away are great killers. Targets (based on information that may or may not be reliable or on reports of other drones) are now widely used by the U.S. against 'suspected' terrorists. They kill very large numbers of innocent people, of course. But that doesn't make our news media so it really doesn't happen. Not really.

The U.S. is not the only country that can make drones. Other countries will have them- and they will bomb as casually as the U.S. does. Canada is an unquestioning ally of the U.S. Indeed, one might even call it a stooge of the U.S. And that makes Canada a target for drones.

And that's just the beginning of robot warfare. In the near future, we'll see unmanned tanks and unmanned  artillery, and even robot soldiers. We'll see a world that can go on fighting even after we're all dead.

We're actively planning for a nuclear war, too, with thousands of missiles around the world ready for action. Of course, we're smart about it. We'll strike first, and destroy the enemy missiles before they get launched. And if any escape that, we'll destroy them with counter-missiles.

Neat, very neat - with one, little catch. Any missile we destroy necessarily releases its radioactive fallout, with more than enough of it to end all life on earth. But that will come as a relief since the spending of such huge sums of money to develop robot weapons and warriors will mean the economic ruin of every country that tries it. It's already happening in the U.S. where poverty is rising in the face of enormous military spending - spending so great it can never be repaid.

That's one reason for the rush to attack Russia and China, particularly China, so the U.S. can get away with without ever paying its debts. However, it is more likely that such a war would mean no Russia, no China, no U.S., no Canada....

For all but those who will not see, wars can no longer be fought. The wars since 1945 have been remarkably ineffective. We don't have fewer wars, we have more. We don't have fewer enemies; we have more. And except in the movies, our side hasn't won anything.

Nobody can possibly win anything from more wars. We cannot fight them with any possibility of success that is worth the price.

We cannot do it. But most of our major leaders insist that we must - including Stephen Harper who pretended to be Clint Eastwood as he said, "Get out of Ukraine, Mr. Putin."

We cannot fight another war. We cannot fight it and survive. But we have billionaires who want another war for their own profit. They own most of our politicians. And they own almost all the news media that keep us in a dreamwalk to the gates of hell.

And so we go on preparing for what cannot be done.

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The same thing is true of climate change. The greatest deniers of it have been the very wealthy like the American Koch brothers. Of course. They make billions out of oil, the major cause of climate change. They have planted propaganda in their news media.

Result - our governments (which such people own) have done very, very little. In fact, the current push is on to extend  oil production with more pipelines, more exploration wells in the fragile Arctic, more warnings that our society must have oil.

Moncton City Council is certainly assuming that oil will go on for a very long time to come. The proposed, new hockey rink won't be open for some years. But all the planning is for people to get to within walking distance from it by car.

The reality is we can't  have more oil. It doesn't matter how much our economy needs it. We can't have it. But all the planning and the pipelines suggest no target date to cut emissions. If a pipeline to our East coast is built - and you can bet it will be built - that means a commitment to oil for generations to come.and, by then, it really won't matter.

You feel we need it? We can't have it. That's a childhood lesson we should now, of all times, be remembering.

But world war and climate change are not even a significant part of our federal election campaign.
Harper, like Trump, is banking on the spread of hatred and fear. with Trump stirring hatred and fear of Mexican  rapists, and Harper aiming at almost invisible Muslim terrorists.

The election issues in Canada and the U.S. are largely trivial - a sure sign of societies in collapse. And the reporting and commentaries from most of our news media have been contemptible - with the Irving press even beneath contemptible. Just check  any day's editorial and commentaries for examples.
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Then we have the Faith Page with its weekly equivalent of somebody piddling against a tree stump.
Yesterday's sermonette was yet another Tweety bird Sunday school story about talking to God.
You know, in a world reeking with starvation, mass murder and theft sponsored by our wealthy and their governments, I rather think Jesus might have come up with a more compelling message. But I've noticed the sermonettes are never about Christianity in relation to social beyaviour. No. They're always just you and God - with a word for Jesus occaisionally tossed in. It's about you going to heaven with the implication that if you aren't, like the sermonetteers, self-obsessed, if you waste your time thinking about how you should treat others, then only the 'true believers' will go (naked) up to heaven to enjoy the view of you being tortured by tarantulas on the way to hell.

War, mass murder, greed, deliberate starvation are religious issues. (Yes, I know we have separation of church and state. But that does not mean we are forbidden to make  religious observations about the state.)

I've noticed that all the sermonettes seem to be written by fundamentalist Protestant clergy. But no United Church, no Presbyterians, no Anglicans, no Unitarians, no Roman Catholics, no Jews, no Muslims. I've know a great many fundamentalists from my preaching days. Just about all of them had a quite unChristian obsession with themselves.

I guess that fits in with the Irving philosophy.

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In short, the churches seem to have abandoned their role of establishing moral guidelines for their followers. And self-interest and greed are now the only forms of morality that have high status in our society.

Any society needs a moral context which encourages us to think of others. All we have is self-obsession for the many, and unbridled greed for a few. And greed is one hell of a dangerous element in making judgements.

We are now faced with at least several things we cannot do - abuse our climate, make war,, and abandon morality. It seems clear that much of our polical leadership and all of our very wealthy intend to do them, anyway. So, if you go to a political meeting, don't go as if it were a jovial, family reunion with everybody wearing the same sort of T-shirt. Don't go to cheer. Go to demand they speak clearly about those things we cannot do.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

August 22:The worse part of democracy....

...is elections.

They are almost always trivial. In the U.S., the big issue is whether Mexicans are sneaking across the border to rape American women. That's the dernier crie in the U.S., and the issue that actually could propel Donald Trump into the White House.  (However, I don't think he'll quite make it. The big money in the U.S. would kill Mexicans just as happily as it has killed Iraqis, Afghanis, Syrians, Libyans, Yemenis and Guatemalans/ But there's no profit in killing Mexicans. So big money in the U.S. is going to Hilary Clinton because she'll do what she's told to do. She and hubby have become multi-multi-millionaires out of the presidency by doing what they were told to do.

In Canada's election, the biggest issue so far is whether Harper knew about the Duffy affair. I'm quite sure he knew all about it. But I really don't care. The real issues are his abuse of democracy, his contempt for democratic process, his selling out of Canada to the very wealthy, his destruction of the environment, and his determination to destroy it much, much more to make billionaires all over the world happy.

Then there's foreign policy - something Canadians almost never discuss in an election year. But we are involved in a war in Iraq and Syria. We have troops in Ukraine though, presumably, not yet in a combat role. And we had troops in Afghanistan. Why?

What is Canada's foreign policy? Is it all simply saying we're 100% behind Israel (while actually doing nothing?) Is it for Harper to make an ass of himself by telling Putin to get out of Ukraine? Israel knows it isn't going to get any real help out of Canada. And Putin must have found it hard not to laugh when Harper threatened him.

What is Canadian foreign policy? Is it just a cheap way to get the Canadian -Jewish and Canadian-Ukrainian vote? It can't be because we sent troops to die in Afghanistan - aircraft to destroy Libya - and aircraft to kill in Iran and Syria. And that was long before the election.

So why did we send them? Nobody has ever told us why.

The reason, of course, is that we are bumboys for the U.S. Empire which, incidentally, is the only world power that is threatening us by pushing ahead with oil exploration in the Canadian Arctic. But shush.. not a word about this duriing an election campaign.

On the front page, Premier Gallant is taking taking bows for Irving spending money for maintenance on his refinery and "creating" 3,000 jobs - for, wow! - 60 days. In the same article the Conservatives reply that Gallant is taking credit for something he didn't do.

And the West is angry it has to support the East.

Now, it's all very sweet to see the kiddies quarreling. But it would be more useful for all of us to look at the nature of our economy and to learn what changes have to be made.  Uncontrolled capitalism does not work. It never has. On the contrary, it has created misery and death all over the world, even on the rare occasions it let us have some of the money.

There are things to discuss - like the massive transfer of unreported and untaxed profits to foreign banks - like the failure of the very rich to pay even the small taxes they are asked to pay. We're not going to solve anything by just waiting around for the Irving refinery to make repairs, and provide jobs for a few days each year.

There's a crisis in the universities. It's going to hurt all of us as most Canadians will find university impossibly expensive. But I can't say I've heard about it in the election debates.

Oh, rethe issue of the West beinig taxed to pay for help for the East, check A6 - "Harper says election campaign not the time to wade into such a complex issue."  Gee golly, Mr. Harper, I can't remember  you wading into this issue when parliament was meeting. So what is a good time?

The only real election news in the whole paper is about Mike Duffy. And I really don't think Canada's future rests on yet more information about a man who was never a role model in the first place.

Oh, there is a report on childcare - which is an election issue. But - it tells us to put it off because we don't know enough. The story on this report tells us close to nothing. It says we need more info from Statistics Canada - advice which nicely ignores the fact that Harper pretty much destroyed statistics Canada. Anyway, we do have data drawn from government experience with daycare - most notably in Quebec. But there's also lots of evidence of the social and health value of daycare. Heck. We can afford to give away a forest to Mr. Irving. It should be possible find money for our children.

The key to understand this report is to note that it comes from Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, a propaganda house for Irvings and would-be Irvings. That's why it's a major story in the Irving press but would never make it into a respectable and honest newspaper.  At the least, a newspaper should tell its readers something about the source it's reporting from.

Oh, what didn't make the paper is the news that the month of July 2015 was the hottest in the world since record-keeping began in 1880. But we won't talk about that or its implication in an election. No. Let's hear more about Duffy.

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Read the headline for the editorial. "Codiac Transpo seeks the answer to tough question."
That's all  you have to read because the editorial has nothing to add to that sentence.

Norbert continues his fixation with the great question facing Canadians today - should we allow exotic pets?

The page is saved by a letter to the editor, "Events centre parking idea is unreasonable." It's a very intelligent letter, much more intelligent than the majority on Moncton City Council.

The guest commentary, "Four things we can do to improve healthcare across Canada", seems well-informed - but very few will read it. That's because the writer doesn't know how to reach a newspaper audience.  I expect the Irving press gets these guest columns on the cheap - but there's a price for being cheap.

Bill Belliveau has an interesting column on why people vote as they do, and how they're voting is largely emotional. I think he's right. And I think he's right to suggest a very large majority of Canadians vote on emotion because they don't bother to keep informed on what's happening in this world.

And, in all gentleness, my experience is that Atlantic Canada is the worst I have seen in this respect. The whole region is like a village in which nobody wants to have an opinion if it, in any way, might be different from anybody else in the village. It reminds me of Mao's China, and of Hong Kong in its British Empire days.
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There's not much in Canada&World - except for B4.

It has a story on violence in Europe as refugees try to get in - and as Canada and the U.S. extend no help whatever for the refugees that we as much as anyone have made.

Then there's the very disturbing news that Islamic State had demolished an ancient Syrian Monastery. It was an historic site, and it was demolished because it was Christian. They are also looting such sites for archeological treasures that wealthy collectors will pay big money for.

The story is, of course, indignant - but annoying because it's so one-sided.

All armies loot or help in the looting of archeological treasres. For a sample of that, drop into the British Museum in London to see room after room of treasures stolen from Greece, Egypt, Rome, China...Much of that looting was done by the man Port Elgin was named for. Iran was looted in the same way when the U.S. invaded it. And the buyers were certainly not extremist rebels. They were the heads of some the 'best' families in the world.
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And that takes me to a topic which I shall try to keep brief.

Armies, all of them, have always murdered civilians regardless of age or gender. It's been done for rape. It's been done for religious or racial hatred, Richard Lion Heart made it a point of his crusading to murder all Jews he came across.

(The U.S. army has been no slouch in the rape department. That's why so many Vietnamese are of mixed blood. Note to Donald Trump - Mexicans could take lessons from the U.S. army on how to rape.)

But indiscriminate killing, while it happened in war, was not the purpose of war for most of  history.
There were exceptions, as in the slaughter of the native peoples of the Americas and Jews and gypsies in Europe. This was deliberate genocide.But in most wars, killing civilians and women was a side-effect, not a purpose. But all that changed with the advent of the airplane.

The airplane was a highly mobile destroyer with bombs and machine guns. But it wasn't very accurate. So, by necessity, it became an indiscriminate killer. As such, it was a useful weapon to spread terror - and Winston Churchill used it for that purpose in bombing Kurd villages in 1920. The Germans followed that in the Spanish civil war of the 1930s with similar attacks, notably the deliberate destruction of an undefended, civilan city, Guernica.

(Encyclopedias say this was the first, deliberate  bombing of civilians. And encyclopedias are wrong. Churchill had done it 17 years earlier. As well, Both Germany and Britain in World War One had bombed cilivan areas - though on a very small scale.  Even earlier, about 1911, American mercenary pilots hired out to Italy bombed villages in Ethiopia.

World War Two began with both sides attacking cities by air. Accuracy could be achieved (somewhat) only by daylight bombing. But daylight bombing was suicidal. So both sides switched to night bombing. And it was wildly inaccurate. Bombs were lucky to hit within ten kilometres of the target. But there was really no choice. And civilian casualties rose markedly. The Germans, for the same reason, switched to night bombing.  The result was heavy loss of civilian life in both Britain and Germany.

By 1942, accuracy had improved, even at night. But both sides had come to the conclusion that war had to be fought against all the people. And the major target became civilians. And the bomb had become essentially a device to create terror. It reached a peak late in the war with the bombing of three, essentially civilian targets, in Japan. There was the fire   bombing of Tokya which killed a  hundred thousand civilians, followed by nuclear bombs on two cities of no significant military presence.

This deliberate killing of civilians had become the normal purpose of war. It was, like the genocides of native peoples and then of Jews,  an act of terrorism inflicted deliberately on civilians. The result was a war with civilian casualties much higher than military ones. And that has been the purpose of war ever since.

How many wars has the U.S. fought since 1945? Very few know because many of them have been secret, operations. But just in the ones generally known , I've drawn up a list of Angola, Guatemala (twice) Haiti, Cuba, Vietnam, Barbados, Korea, Iran, Colombia, Chile, Laos, Cambodia, Pakistan (drones) Yemen (drones) Afghanistan, Iraq, Panama, Syria  (paying, training, and supplying weapons to Muslim mercenaries)

How many military attacks has it carried out on how many countries in that time? Nobody knows. Most are secret, carried out by special ops or by drones or simply by hired killers. The most discriminating killings are the ones by hired killers. Aircraft and drones kill whoever has the bad luck to be there. Ditto with Agent Orange and napalm.

In all of these, aerial bombing was used extensively against civilians, and quite deliberately against civilians. General Curtis LeMayl of the air force set the tone with Cambodia and Laos when he said, "We'll bomb them back to the stone age." Both countries were bombed so heavily (mostly in cities) that scenes like 9/11 occured every day. And, as in 9/11 most of the dead were civilians, women, children, mother and fathers, babies...

Hoow many American military have been killed since 1945?  A hundred thousand or so.

How many civilians, how many babies, how many children have they killed in that time?   So many millions that nobody knows the number.

And why were all these wars fought? Were Cuba, Haiti, Cambodia, Laos, Angola, Iraq, Iran, and Guatemala and Vietnam such threats to the U.S.? Or were these wars to bring freedom and dmocracy? (Not bloody likely.  In most cases,  the U.S. destroyed whatever democracy there was.)

And forget the God and country crap. It was done neither for God nor country. It was done to make U.S. billionaires the controllers of all the world's economies. Neither ordinary Americans nor people of any other country will get any benefit out of that.

And now we're on the edge of the final touch - the war fought by robots. Hey, that's an easy one to vote for. No need to worry about the draft that caused George Bush Jr. so much trouble.

Add to that governments, news media and entertainment media who have molded us to live in a fear and hate that justify any barbarity.

So what does all this mean to us? I'll write about that tomorrow.