Irving press headline – 'Federal minister wants options for boosting Atlantic salmon numbers'. Translation – nothing has happened. And there's no story.
At the bottom of the page is a real story. The average age of the province's volunteer fire workers is up by twenty years to 50. Volunteer fire fighters of over 70 are common. And rural new Brunswick has a lot of flimsy housing just begging for fires to happen.
Both stories should be important. But we already know that the salmon are in danger. We've known it for years. And done nothing. And here we have the story of a federal government that's dithering around asking sport fishermen what it should do. This is an issue for scientists. Why is the government wasting its time like this?
Page one also has a story worth thinking about. Our provincial government wants to sell booze in grocery stores - in the hope this will increase tax revenues. That's the kind of thinking we see all the time in the Irving press. People don't matter. All that matters is finding more more money. Selling booze in grocery stores will almost certainly bring in more profit and taxes. It will also encourage more drinking. But, hey, it'll bring in more taxes.
After the first page, section A news just crashes.
The editorial deals with the rural firefighting problem. That makes sense – except – the editorial simply repeats the news story while adding a one-sentence solution that is no solution at all.
Norbert deals with a burning of issue of daily life in the province, the cost to politicians of maintaining their riding offices with an allowance of only $40,000 for each office.
Brent Mazerolle, as usual, doesn't have a commentary. Instead, he has an utterly pointless story about how beautiful the countryside is in winter.
The Commentary below Mazerolle is, at best, a letter to the editor. It's really free advertising space in defence of giving or lending money to businesses setting up in Moncton. It's from D+Corporation which is in the business of getting such money for companies. I checked its site. It has lots of bright pages of pictures; but very little information.
The column by Joanne Moore is a good read. But it's not a commentary. It's an ad for Robert Burns night. I have no objection to Robert Burns night. In fact, for thirty years or so I was the regular speaker in Montreal for 'the toast to the immortal memory' at the Burns nights for the Masons, the St. Andrew's Society, the Sons of Scotland, and invariably wearing my kilted mess kit as an officer of the 78th Fraser Highlanders. I'm glad to see the night advertised. But not in a commentary column.
However, I do have my own little story about a Burns night. I had given the speech and the toast, watched the little lassies do the sword dance, then I slipped off to the washroom. There I stood, minding my own business, when I heard the door open. More surprisingly, I heard a voice say, “I saw you. I saw you across the room. And I thought – I must meet this man.”
Flattering, of course. But a little worrisome in a washroom.
He kept chattering as I kept wondering what on earth this was all about. I learned he was a Scot, a journalist of some considerable fame in Scotland. He wanted to leave Scotland for Canada. And he was looking for a job in journalism. Aha! Vastly relieved, I understood he wanted me to set him up for a job. Then he gave me his name.
Some years ago, there was a nationalist anthem that was a hit all over the world. It was a hymn to Scotland and to a Scottish nation. Even today, it often played at Burns dinners. It's title is 'Scotland the Brave'.
Canada and World has only two stories about the world, neither of which tells us anything.
The lead story tells us that former Chief Medical Officer Dr. Cleary and the government have reached an agreement on her dismissal. But we still haven't been told why she was dismissed. However, the official statement is fascinating. “The Deputy Minister and Dr. Cleary agree that it is important to move forward and return the focus to the important work of ...promoting the health of the people...”
A jounalist should have jumped on that line – return the focus - . That can only mean the government is saying it fired her because she was not focussed the health of the people. How can the government go on saying that it cannot tell us why it fired her when it has just told us why it fired her? And what, exactly, does “focus on the health of the people' mean?
Could it mean stopping research on the pesticides Mr. Irving sprays on our forests?
This whole case stinks. And the Irving press smells the stinkiest.
Also on B1, the New Brunswick government intends to divert more of the new refugees to smaller communities with dwindling populations. The populations are dwindling because there are no jobs. And that's not the dumbest part of the idea of sending refugees there.
These refugees are going to be forced into communities in such small numbers that no community of their own can exist. At best, they will have a few families able to be in touch with each other. That will do them no good at all. People need to be among others with whom they can share traditions and elements of culture while adjusting to a new situation. Sticking a few of them in villages is like putting them on the moon.
And what will it be like for the children to grow up and to go to school as such a minority?
Once again, New Brunswick governments are thinking only of the good business deal they can get out of this. But these are people. They are people who have been wretchedly abused. Stop thinking about money and deals and how they can be used to our advantage. That's self-serving. These are people who need our help, not our exploitation. New Brunswick goes around kissing itself for its kindness when all it seems to think of is what it can make out of this. That topic would make a better sermonette for the Faith Page than any I have yet seen.
There's a more useful story about how solitary confinement in prisons doesn't work. In fact, it makes things worse. I can believe that. I have seen prisoners in solitary. It's so disgusting and destructive, I couldn't possibly write about it in a public document.
There is pretty much no world outside of New Brunswick in this section – despite some questions that should be answered. Why were Canadian aircraft bombing Syria when the Canadian government had no mandate to send them there? Why is Saudi Arabia fighting a war with a miserably poor country? Why is it deliberately starving millions? Why has the U.S. supplied the bombs, including illegal cluster bombs, to Saudi Arabia?
The U.S. overthrew the elected government of Ukraine because it was pro-Russian. That's why the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine broke away. The part governed by Kiev is anti-Russian, and ruled largely by representatives of the western banks. And they have robbed Kiev Ukraine into deep poverty.
Did the U.S. risk a world war with Russia just for that, to rob the last possessions of a people already poor? It's possible, of course, if both cruel and dumb. It's quite possible.
Was it intended to provoke a war with Russia? If so, it's been a crashing failure. Was it to bring prosperity to Ukraine? That's hard to believe when western banks have so thoroughly looted the country.
Why is Saudi Arabia suddenly so eager for wars? Why is it's execution rate, always high, now really taking off?
The Taliban, after decades of non-stop war with Russia and the U.S. are still a major force in Afghanistan. Now, China and Pakistan are entering the picture. (Actually, Pakistan has been in the picture for a very long time.) After fifteen years of U.S. military involvement, as well as training and equipping the Afghanistan army, it still can't beat the rebel Taliban. Now, the U.S. is in danger of becoming a very junior player in the whole region.
It's a complicated story. But it's told well below by an excellent reporter.
Saudi Arabia has been unusually active in military affairs recently. That may be a very bad sign – for Saudi Arabia. Its artificial lowering of world oil prices is also proving something of a disaster for itself.
What's going on is explained below by an experienced authority on the subject. The only weakness of this account is that it leaves out the religious aspect, the part that is essential to understanding Saudi support of ISIS and of Syrian 'rebels'.
Do you have one of those Charlie Hebdo T-shirts that you wear proudly? You remember Charlie Hebdo, the French magazine that specialized in degrading cartoons of Muslims and of Muhammed all naked and stuff. I mean, it was just in fun. Right? And, anyway, free speech means you can say anything you want. And that's why the western world was disgusted when Muslims shot up some of the Hebdo staff. I mean, we believe in freedom of speech. That's why I'm sure the Faith page in the Irving press would be happy to run a cartoon of a naked Jesus urinating in the face of a dead man.
So now, in its courageous stand for freedom of speech, Charlie Hebdo has run a cartoon of the little, Muslim boy who was washed up on a beach, drowned as he and his family were trying to escape the hell we have made of their homelands. It also showed him, had he lived, as a teen-age woman molester running wild.
Ha Ha. Wear your T-shirt with pride.
The column below on this subject is much too kind.
What's running wild in our society, in Britain, in France, in the U.S. leadership campaigns is racism and bigotry. And the racists and bigots are commonly the same ones who attend our nicest churches. Funny how the Faith page has never discussed that.
The fall in oil prices is commonly reported as though this were simply something between us and the local gas station. The reality is oil prices changes of any sort affect the whole world. It can destroy countries, create wars, manipulate whole societies…. And the victim countries can rarely do anything about it.
For a more optimistic note on that theme, Ralph Nader has an interesting book review and commentary on how to achieve a world of renewable energy. (And it's the sort of thing you will never see in the Irving press – because it's true.) Just scroll down to 'Building a renewable energy future'. In fact, read all the entries.
Then there's the eternal problem of private media that whip up hysteria over nothing. This recent example is a good one.
Then there's the news that would have Irving columnist Norbert Cunningham shouting 'Hallelujah'.
Obama has fired more public employees than any president in history.
Finally, a thought that just occurred to me. (I do, occasionally, think.)
Bernie Sanders is running for the Democrat leadership against Hillary Clinton. And, though Hillary has the advantage of what must be the best-funded campaign in American history, the two are running very close.
The really astonishing part is that Bernie Sanders declares himself a socialist. I think that's really an overstatement. But he does believe in feeding the hungry and housing the homeless, and healing the sick. And, by American political standards, that makes him a wild-eyed Maoist. But he's right up there in the polls with Hillary.
There has been the odd socialist running for the presidency. But, oh, it's been rare. And I don't think that such a person has ever before been doing so well.
I don't know whether Sanders could win the presidency. And, if he did, he would be opposed by the whole of Congress which is already bought and paid for.
The party races are contests dominated by those who build the most fear and hysteria. There is no substance to most of the 'debates', - not even a notice that the U.S. is in a desperate social condition that is a mixture of racisms, poverty, declining education, a wildly out of control crime rate, mass murder a daily event – more than daily – and such a wide ownership of weapons and such an acceptance of the 'Americaness of this that almost 200 heavily armed men have actually occupied a government building and have been defying the government, the army and the police for over a week This is an armed rebellion. But it's okay. They're defending a fundamental human right to shoot people they disagree with.
And then there's Bernie Sanders, the closest one to sanity in the whole bunch – and he has very high support from the American people. This is a peaceful rebellion that is happening in the U.S. Even if he loses, he represents a shift in American thinking that may well have profound consequences. Bernie Sanders represents an America that has not been bought by the wealthy or propagandized by the news media owned by the wealthy. This has never happened before. And you know what?
The Irving press has never mentioned Bernie Sanders.