Friday, January 22, 2016

Jan.22: The living dead of the Irving press.

Just a quick look at the Irving press.
Page A4 has a big story that Progressive Conservative MLAs are waiting before endorsing a leadership candidate. So bloody what? Let them wait.

On A5, a New Brunswick veteran has a war relic, a fragment of metal, he thinks is worth keeping. I think it is, too. But it's none of my business or of anybody's except the veteran. And now that I have that piece of information, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with it. Oh, and a local restaurant should finish its renovations in about two weeks. Be still, my heart.

And that's it for the news.

The editorial has nothing of significance to say about food banks. It's final sentence is a common and useless one in editorial writing. In translation, it says, SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.

Cole Hobson's commentary is, as usual, not a commentary but just cutesy little story.

Alec Bruce has some sensible ideas for what governments and institutions should be doing in New Brunswick. But it gets vague on how this should be done.

There's an excellent guest column on why the provincial budget must look after the needs of N.B.'s poor. It's one of those rare columns to say that government that it exists to look after the needs of our society, not just to find ways of cutting budgets. It was written by Joanne Petitpas and Pauline Richard represent the New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice.

A special thank you to Norbert Cunningham for making this intelligent column possible by going on leave.

Then there's Brian Murphy. There is certainly nothing objectionable in his remembrance of a Roman Catholic priest from Moncton. The only part of his work I am familiar with is the creation of St. Patrick's Recreation Centre of which I am an admirer. But…

….the general theme of Mr. Murphy's columns is that he sees only good wherever he looks. I have yet to see anything critical in any of his columns. Mr. Murphy is everybody's friend. In short, these columns appear to be written to benefit Mr. Murphy as Moncton's see not evil, hear no evil, speak no evil sweetheart. A commentary is supposed to stimulate our thinking, not to be self-serving for the writer.

And an “everybody's” friend is nobody's friend but his own.

Canada and World section is really dismal. There is no world. And the stories that are carried are the usual trivial ones. It takes a quarter of a page to inform us that that Peter MacKay says there's plenty of time for a leadership bid. (The world holds its breath.)

There's a half page to say Dennis Oland's appeal is expected to take months. One sentence would have been enough to tell us that. The big question the paper might deal with is – How common is it for a poor or even middle class person to be able to string out a trial for year, and to get relatives willing to put up a million in bail for them?

People are being starved to death and being murdered daily in Yemen. The U.S. and Britain are supplying the bombs, even though both are signatories to an agreement not to sell weapons to states with bad human rights records. And Saudi Arabia is among the worst. ( And, of course, Canada is selling it armoured cars.)

There's serious trouble developing between Pakistan and a faction of the Taliban. Saudi Arabia could be heading to a collapse. In Africa and Latin America, children as young as seven are working in the depths of mines owned by western corporations – in which a Canadian role is prominent. The death rate of those children, especially in Africa, is high. The U.S. carries out illegal drone attacks and special ops assassinations almost every day. But those are rarely mentioned.

The U.S. was carrying out torture in prisons rented all over the world. Is it still doing that? How come we've scarcely heard a word about Bernie Sanders in the Democrat leadership race, even though he's proving to be a real challenge to Hillary Clinton?

The U.S. has taken over an air base in Syria – even though that's illegal under international law. Israel has begun destroying Palestinian homes in a piece of Gaza that it intends to take from Palestine. Also illegal.

Then, on C5, we get U.K. judge: Putin likely approved plan to poison ex-spy. Notice the word 'likely'.

That means there's no proof he did. In fact, there was really no trial, certainly not a legal one in which there were witnesses. Can you imagine a Moncton judge finding a person guilty of crossing on a red light and fining that person despite a lack of witnesses who saw it happen? Can you imagine that judge saying, “We have no proof. But I think it likely you crossed on a red light. Fine $500."

Did Putin approve of the murder of a Russian spy? I have no idea. Of course, it's possible. But the whole idea of Britain holding such a 'trial' is pure propaganda.

It could be a starting point for an interesting series. Does Obama approve all the killings by drones? Of course he does. Did he approve of the murder of Osama Bin Laden? Of course. Does the British government approve of the killings by its 'James Bonds'? Sure. But when a British agent does it, it's because he has a license to kill. Remember? And that not evil. That's romantic. And, when it comes to such assassinations, Britain takes a back seat to no-one – except the U.S.

The U.S. routinely assassinates people in Latin America. Of course, Obama approves it. Under recent American law, the U.S. president has the right to order the killing of people, including U.S. citizens. And I h ave never seen a denial that he does it. Surely, even a sleepy village paper like the Irving press must know that.

Page C4 has a thought-provoking column on our tendency to conform. It's by student columnist Mhairi Agnew. Conformity seems a natural human trait arising from a desire to be accepted. Just today, I watched a bit of a film (a very old – 1940 or so) bad one. I noticed how, in every scene, somebody was smoking a cigarette or lighting one. Everyone was breathing clouds of smoke. And everyone was constantly having a glass of liquor – always good stuff, and always while wearing tux or evening gown. This is a prime example of how the tobacco and liquor industries used conformity to encourage smoking and drinking.

They paid fim-makers to show that smoking and drinking were what sophisticated people did all the time. This conditioned a rising middle class to see drinking and smoking as desirable, encouraging the middle class to see these as desirable conformities for themselves.

But I would caution Miss Agnew not to get her hopes up for university. Academics have their own conformities. After all, they're just human. As a working class boy who never really caught on to academic conformities, I always found this the unpleasant part of universities.

Apart, then, from three commentaries, including the student one, this paper is beneath contempt.

There is nothing on the militia standoff in Oregon. This is about as illegal as it gets. A couple of weeks ago, 150 heavily armed men occupied a government building, and have defied the police and the army. (Their number has since increased.)

Imagine what would happen if you and some friends bought guns, then openly took over say, the courthouse, defying the government to do anything about it. This is more than breaking the law. This is more than death threats. This is armed rebellion.

And nothing has happened. If the government is unwilling to shoot them (after all, they are white and Christian), it would surely be an easy matter to blockade the building, cut off electricity and supplies, and starve them out.

But it hasn't done anything. Why not?

Well, there's the white and Christian aspect. There's also the element that very large numbers of Americans and, more importantly, of big American money in the arms industry, support the concept of such a rebellion. This is a nation in hysteria. A forceful ending this rebellion could cause similar acts all across the U.S., and nobody can guess the consequences of that.

Action can and should be taken. These 'militia' should all be facing long jail sentences. But I don't think long jail sentences are going to happen. They would happen if these were African Americans or Muslim Americans. But they's jes' folks.

I think the damage is done. And this is one more step, probably a big one, in the collapse of American society.

Ralph Nader has an interesting summary of why the U.S. is a failing democracy, and why it probably doesn't matter who wins the election. He mentions the multi-billionaire Koch brothers who stand very tall in the U.S. - and in Canada.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ralph-nader/the-devastating-cost-of-m_b_9044900.html?utm_source=Alert-blogger&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Email%2BNotifications

I fear we may have passed the point in Canada, too, at which peaceful change can be made. The billionaires won't allow it.
Here's an interesting story from Britain. A study shows that 60% of all alcohol sold is sold to problem drinkers. Now, there's a project for the Irving press to look at. I have read a good deal about booze in the Atlantic provinces in history. Back in the 1850s, it was typical for whole families, including babies to be blasted on weekends. 100 proof rum (50% alcohol) from the West Indies was cheap. Stores commonly had an open barrel of the stuff so that clients could enjoy free booze while shopping. And, across Canada, when the minister came to call, it was basic politeness to give him a shot. That must have meant early to bed for clergy worn out by a day of visiting the sick and the frail.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/22/problem-drinkers-alcohol-industry-most-sales-figures-reveal
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And here's a very sensible reaction to the 'judicial' finding that Putin approved the killing of a Russian spy.


And here's an opinion on a matter I can't call seeing in the Irving press, the poisoning of the water supply of a whole city in Michigan. ( Is this, perhaps, too delicate a matter to be discussed in New Brunswick?)

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/22/flint-water-crisis-epa-responsibility-justice
The following item is from a socialist news organization. But the information it quotes is not from a socialist source. It is from UN reports. It includes abuses by all sides in the middle east. But the point is it began with the first Gulf war when Bush Sr. was president.

Life in the middle east has become a horror, with just about everybody sharing blame for it. But the disruptive force, the one that started this descent into hell, was the American imperialism begun in the the first Gulf war, then enormously made worse by the American invasion of Iraq.

This topic of social disruption is one I have to remember for my Sunday blog.


And here's another story you won't find in the Irving press. Israel's ruthless expansion onto Palestinian territory has nothing to do with Judaic evil. It is heavily criticized by Jews in Israel and here in North America. But never even mentioned in the Irving news. It has nothing to do with Judaism at all. It has to do with the greed of the wealthy – which is pretty common in all religions.


By the way, you may notice a flicker in the corner of your screen when you connect with the home page for Information Clearing House. The flicker is the disappearance of the daily report of Americans killed by their own police. ICH runs it, but a thoughtful national government hacker intervenes so we don't see anything that might be upsetting.
Al Jazeera is remarkable for its depth and accuracy of news coverage – and for its opinions. Guess where the world's worst income inequality is. It's a region in which big Canadian capitalism is prominent. It's Latin America.

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Then there's this piece on the opinions of Noam Chomsky, who never makes it into the Irving press because he's only published a hundred books and has world status as an intellectual. Nope. We get Richard Saillant stuffed down our throats.

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I'm having trouble getting Haaretz today, though it seems to have lots of good stuff, as usual. I may have to get a subscription.

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