Saturday, January 9, 2016

Jan. 9: New Brunswick is part of the world Yes, it is.

In a real newspaper, the headline is about the major event of the day. Typically, it's a world story. Today, for example, it might have been about the world war we are edging into. It might have been about the tremendous reaction of the gun business to Obama's quite mild recommendations to tone down gun violence in the U.S., the most heavily armed country in the world. It might have been some indication of where our federal government stands on Canada's place in all this.

But, in the Irving press, today's headline is about a small community in New Brunswick whose fire station caught fire. The story? The station's fire alarm might not have been connected.

Next to it is our third day of stories about an elderly woman living in poverty who was voluntarily helped by the charity of others. This isn't a news story. This is local boosterism about how generous New Brunswickers are. (In fact, the figures show that this is one of the least generous regions of Canada.) The story also takes us away from what should be the main point – that there are uncounted thousands living in these conditions in New Brunswick. And we aren't doing a damn thing about it.

The other front page story is that shale gas development will not happen this year in New Brunswick. Interesting. But it misses the chance to remind New Brunswickers we are part of a world of billions of people who profoundly affect us. If there is no shale gas development this year, it will be because there's no money in it. And there's no money in it because Saudi Arabia is flooding the world with cheap oil. And the Saudis are doing that to weaken their competitors, particularly Russia. In consequence, oil-rich Saudi Arabia now has to borrow money to stay afloat – this at a time when it is fighting a war with Yemen and looking for one with Iran.

And that means we are looking at a time of very serious destabilization in Saudi Arabia and in the whole region, including in Saudi Arabia. And this may well be why Saudi Arabia is buying armed cars from Canada – to subdue its own people.

In this year, it is quite possible that Canadians, including New Brunswickers, may be dying as a result of all this. But don't worry about it. The Irving press will keep us informed about the fire alarm at the Havelock fire station.

Page A7 has a hot story that a corrections officer smuggled tobacco to a prison inmate. Big deal. When I was working at a penitentiary, drugs were constantly flooding in.

And, on A9, we learn that a local coffee shop is closing.

It doesn't get any better on the Opinion and Commentary pages. Norbert offers a rant that we have to do something about the provincial debt. We know that, Norbert. The question is what is causing this debt. Is it at all connected to the very wealthy of this province, including the owner of this newspaper?

Brent Mazerolle has a trivial story. There's a guest column that health care is to expensive. But it doesn't give a single figure to back that up. The only column worth reading is by Jo-Anne Moore – though even that is local. Section A is real, belly-button gazing experience. And it doesn't get any better in the world news in section B where we learn that a baby in Quebec suffered burns when its seat was left on a stove.

The whole world is on the edge of chaos. There's climate change. There's big capitalism running out of control. There's a U.S. in profound hysteria, fear and hatred that is turning to a Donald Trump for leadership – and almost all the candidates are as bad as he is. We are, almost certainly, approaching the greatest human migrations in history as a result of wars and climate change. We are watching the disintegration of the American Empire which can save itself only by taking the risk of destroying the whole world.

You know, all this will affect New Brunswick. Yes, it will. Even more than a disconnected fire alarm at the Havelock fire station.
The sermonette on the Faith page is better than usual. It deals with the meaning of loving our neighbour, and the dangers of hate and indifference. But, as usual, it deals with it as an abstraction. There's nothing abstract about it. We live in a world running on hatred and indifference, and it's destroying us. That's what the American leadership contests are about. Even in this province, the wealthy couldn't be more indifferent to the bulk of the population. For Christ's sake, why not say so?

Like it or not, New Brunswick is a part of the world. What happens in China or Afghanistan or Germany affects us. There are tens of thousands of graves of Canadians in Europe and Hong Kong and South Africa and here in Canada, row on row of military grave markers to remind us of that. The job of a newspaper is to inform us about that, not just to babble about minor, local affairs.

It's worth knowing about Saudi Arabia and the state of its economy. The item below will be a help.

I liked the article below because it's not political. It looks at the world from essentially a spiritual point of view. It's something like a sermonette, with the difference that it takes the spiritual values into the real world. This sort of thing is what I would prefer to see on a faith page.

What it also does well is to use the word 'fascism' in its correct sense – as a destroyer of democracy by making big business a full partner in government. Remember, through the 1930s, western big business supported Mussolini and Hitler. And that partnership is why. Also remember that December issue of the Irving press when Mr. Irving announced that he was in coalition with the New Brunswick government. That is what fascism is.

You want to know about Christians in the middle east? You won't find anything in the Irving press or, for that matter, on the Faith page. Both of those avoid the real world. So you have to go to al jazeera.

Ever read much about native peoples in the Irving press? Not likely. So try al jazeera. This one is about the Mohawk skywalkers, the construction workers who built the Brooklyn Bridge and New York's skyscrapers, and were among the first to climb up the dangerous walls of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

I knew some of them because they came from the Kanawake reservation just outside Montreal. I taught many of their children, and was invited to meet with students and teachers at their high school just after the Kanawake rebellion that had Canada close to a war. They don't like or trust us. And for good reason.

You'll also have to go to al jazeera to read about the disastrous toxic leak in the fracking fields of California. It's been happening for over two months. Thousands have been evacuated. But the Irving press has no room for it because it needed the space for its big story about the fire station whose alarm wasn't connected.

And there's lots of other material in al jazeera. There are stories about the daily earthquakes in Oklahoma, believed to be caused by fracking. There are questions about the coming crisis of climate refugees. There's a story about radical developments in medical training, and they're happening in Canada. (Not in New Brunswick, though. Here, we fire doctors who are too good at what they do.)
It covers Latin America which the Irving press rarely mentions. There's a story about the drinking water of a large American city that has been poisoned as a result of shoddy disposal of wastes.

Here's a sample of what the Irving press missed.

There's a story about the Haiti that was destroyed by an earthquake. The U.S., along with our soldiers, went to Haiti to bring help (and to destroy the only democratic elected government Haiti ever had. Haiti was put back under the old system, rule by an American-chosen dictator.) The U.S. had ruled Haiti for almost a century, first by the U.S. army, then using very brutal dictators to make sure there were no social services and lots of deep poverty. That made it a sound place for big money, American investors.

When Haitians rebelled and voted in an ex-priest as president, the U.S. was very annoyed. The new president was, certainly, a man with many faults. But his worst was that he spread public education and tried to improve living conditions. So the U.S, and us and others, sent 'peacekeepers' to 'restore order' and bring back what the U.S. considered good, old days.

Canada, like many countries also sent billions of dollars to repair the earthquake damage. But most of it never got there. It was handed out to private contractors who, as usual, used most of it to 'conduct studies' that nobody ever saw. Today, years later, Haitians live in a squalor even worse than under the U.S. dictators. The Irving press hasn't noticed. But al jazeera has.

And there's more, much more in al jazeera. Take a look at it. I can never even find all of it. And it's almost always ethical and intelligent journalism. Oh, al jazeera also has the story about Trump having a woman thrown out from a speech he was giving – because she was Moslem. Tell me how this is different from Hitler.

And here's a sample of intelligent opinion from Israel's Haaretz; and one which the Irving press would never consider printing. Haaretz doesn't have the resources that al jazeera does. But its quality is high.

The Guardian also had the story of the woman kicked out of the Donald Trump rally.
We are already living in a world in which major democracies are either fascist or close to it – with some stepping further into the category of nazi.

Government should not exploit hatreds and fears. And it's starting point should not be about raising money. It's starting should be about the needs of a society, needs like health care, education, housing for the homeless, food for the malnourished. But read the Irving press, and it all starts with money.

As Norbert says today, fire people in the civil service who make a hundred thousand a year. And put your trust in private executives who make a hundred thousand in a week. That's more efficient. Yeah. Just make the rich richer, and all our social needs will be met. That's what the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies is all about. That's what the provincial Liberals and Conservatives are all about. It doesn't work. It has never worked, not in all of human history.

You have to start with people, the whole society and what it needs. Then you look at the whole society to pay for it. The whole society, not just the ones on minimum wage or the ones who will have to use a toll road. You look at the wealthy, too, because their wealth will not fall like rain upon the earth below. The most expensive cost of this province is the cost of taxing even the hungry to feed the very rich.


  1. the Supreme Court "must consider the effect of granting absolute immunity through general statutory provisions, many of which are found in provincial statutes across Canada." Wonder if it will make the Times and Transcript? Heres a link to the story