Monday, February 29, 2016

Feb. 29: Wow! No story about Dennis Oland. I want my money back.

There's nothing of news in section A.

The editorial writer comments on the recent fracking report presented by an independent commission. It's obvious the editorial writer didn't and doesn't know what it is the commission was supposed to do, and is angry at it for doing it. There is also a puzzling, editorial suggestion  that there is no evidence that fracking damages water safety. In fact, there is a good deal of evidence. (Could we have some evidence that there is no evidence?)

Then the editorial comes to exactly where I thought it would take a stand. It is in favour of shale gas development because, duh, it will create jobs.
Well, so now we know what Mr. Irving thinks.

Norbert, Craig Babstock, and Steve Malloy all produce decent comments. I don't agree with Steve Malloy on this one. But it is a real commentary.

Alec Bruce manages to write a whole column on our fiscal situation without even a whisper of the wealthy of this province, of how much in taxes they pay (or don't pay), with no mention of offshore bank accounts, of tax write-offs, no mention of how much they cost us in favours.

Sorry, kids. It is not possible to discuss the fiscal situation in this province without mentioning how much of our collective wealth ends up in the pockets of the very wealthy. There's a reason  you're short of money. You're being robbed.

And all of the commentaries are severely local. But the world does not end at the boundaries of New Brunswick. Almost a hundred thousand Canadians have died in wars over the past hundred years. We are close to sending many more. We need to understand what this is all about - and it's not just Queen and country.
In the section that is humorously called Canada and World, the only part worth reading is an ad on B5.

The Gallant government is privatizing much of our highway maintenance. So it's cutting 277 jobs. You know, to save money.  Except, of course, it won't save money. We now have to pay private contractors who have to pay money for workers and then have to make a profit above what it pays. Privatization doesn't save money. It costs money.

The ad suggests you call your local MLA, and demand action. The trouble with that is that your local MLA probably supports privatization. You're not going to get action out of most of the people you voted for. They know who runs the province and pays their election bills. No. What New Brunswick has to do is to think before the next election.
In the real news, the Canadian government is playing with two, foolish ideas.
One is to reconsider the problem-plagued F-35 fighter for our air force. There are comparable aircraft on the market that are cheaper and that actually work. Why are we limitiing ourselves to an American aircraft that is expensive, and doesn't work?

Two hints - 1. the American war industries are enormously corrupt and corrupting.

2. We are a colony of the U.S. And colonies are expected to buy weaponry from the mother country, and to fight the wars of the mother country.

Our military is an extension of the American military. So it is now increasingly equipped with American weaponry just as it used to be equipped with British weaponry.  (The shift began in World War Two. Thus our purchase of the inferior U.S. Sherman tank when we should have bought the Russian T-34.)
And will this increase corruption in the equipping of our military? You bet. The American war industries wouldn't know how to work without corruption.
The second fooliah idea is foolish in its approach. Canada is looking at drones. One type would be to patrol our arctic borders   (which makes some sense). Another type would be an attack drone - which makes no sense at all.
Such drones are currently used on a wide scale by the U.S. Usually, they are used to attack countries which which they are not at war. (Pakistan and Yemen are examples.) This is illegal - but I won't press the point because we have abandoned laws or rules about war a long time ago.

More seriously, a drone is a highly indiscriminate killer. The U.S. proudly announces it has killed X number of "suspected" terrorists almost every day. It often turns out that the suspected terrorists were children in a playground, guests at a wedding party, just about anybody. Should Canadians join that game?
It also would entail having bases near the targetted country. We could get those, mostly, only from the U.S. and with its permission. In other words, we would be buying weapons not to defend Canada but to fight American wars.

 It also raises another, important question, one that our parliamant is not likely to discuss. Exactly what is it our military should be for?  To defend ourselves? Against whom?

Only one country has invaded us or threatened to invade us in over 250 years. That country has invaded us, has sponsored invasions, has threatened war several times, and does not recognize our Arctic claims to this day. So will the drones in our north be used to direct our warships in the North to attack illegal American ships? Or to send our F-35s to bomb them?

The reality is that there is only one country in the world that can, realistically, invade Canada. That country is the U.S. And, frankly, our armed forces are by now so interlaced with American armed forces, I doubt whether they would know who to shoot.

Take a look at the wars we have fought since 1945. Tell me one, any one, that was fought for a Canadian interest. Why are we messing about with Syria (illegally)?  Because the U.S. wants us to - the same reason we went to Afghanistan, the reason why our fighter aircraft were bombing Iraq (legally) and Syria (Illegally). Korea was also a war the U.S. wanted for its own interests.
The first thing to do with a military is not to select weapons. It's to decide what the military is for. We did, in Pearson's day, make that decision. Canada had nothing to gain from any war, and nobody was  likely to invade it. So Pearson decided the sensible thing was to train and equip an army to stop wars - to be a peacekeeper. And we did it well (until the day we returned to being American puppets, and sent our "peacekeepers" to Haiti to overthrow a government the U.S. didn't like.)

There is no merit or future for Canada in fighting imperial wars to make American billionaires rulers of the world.

In grad school, one of my professors was Arthur Lower, author of a history of Canada called "Colony to Nation". It should have been called "Colony to Colony". We almost, if  not quite, broke out under Lester Pearson. We are now probably at our last chance.

Oh, there are those who believe we should always help the U.S. in war because it's the 'gutsy' thing to do. To those, I have only two responses.

1. In the hard-headed world of diplomacy, no country thinks like that. All countries fight out of their own interests or, as in the U.S., the interests of those who own them.

2. Grow up.

The Irving press seems unaware of both of these stories, though they happened in Canada.

However, it does have an important story about a man in Delhi who stabbed fourteen members of his family before killing himself.
Then  there's this very unusual Donald Trump story. It's about a Donald Trump who dodged military service (as did George Bush and most of that social class), who is friendly with the Ku Klux Klan, and who has contempt for the military.

And the latest polls suggest he could well win the presidency. Still want to be the colonial tag-along for American imperial wars?
And this one is required reading for Canadians.
The following item is from Monthly Review, a site of book reviews and commentaries,  seen from a socialist point of view. It seems an excellent source. But, oh, I do wish socialists would learn to write briefly and simply. Boosters for capitalism (like the Irving press) may not be either honest or intelligent; but they get through because they write in simple style.
Some things should not be forgotten. One of those things is the use of agent orange by the U.S. in Vietnam. All these years later, children are still being born with no eyes, no mouths, horribly distorted bodies. Most of them die after a few years; but some still struggle to live and, somehow, have lives.

That's the price  of war. And no country has demanded that price more than the United States, with carpet bombing, nuclear bombing (do you think the full horror of those bombings lasted only a day? Children there are still being born disfigured - or not born at all.) Then there are the illegal cluster bombs used lavishly in Iraq and now in Yemen. And there's napalm. And Agent Orange.
God bless America, the country that all those terrible people are always picking on. Gee! Let's rush to join American in its crusade for God. Let's  get those drones and F-35s and join the U.S. in its task to bring peace to the world.
Watch for a rapidly worsening situation in Europe as its handling of refugees crumbles into ancient hatreds and bigotries
There's a story in Haaretz that I can't send yet until I get a subscription. (But I want to find out first if I'll then be able to post it.)

The story is that East Jerusalem, a worn-down district in which Muslim Israelis are walled-off, is of course, suffering from its treatment under the Israeli government. But residents say that conditions are better than they were under British rule.

That's something we often forget. The British ranted at Hitler, saying he was trying to conquer the world. They forgot, and still forget, that Britain conquered more of the world than any nation in History  - and everyone suffered except for the wealthy British.

Americans charged Hitler in the same way. Today, the U.S. is openly trying to conquer that world. That's what the term  "American exceptionalism" means. And don't kid yourself that Canada is exempt from that.

But we grow up with versions of history that largely ignore the truth about the past. (How many Canadians know that some of the worst death camps in the Boer War, camps which housed whole families, were the ones run by Canadians?)

Acadians learn the history of how they survived a tragic displacement. But not much about what happened to the people who lived here before them.

American history is about a nation that brought freedom to the world. In fact, it was one of the latest countries in the world to ban slavery. George Washington, pride of the nation of liberty and equality, was the biggest slave owner in the U.S.  Americans were created equal? Not in the constitution they weren't. Women were  unequal as were slaves and many of the poor.

In fact, Americans were ( and are) no more equal than the British were ( and are).
The whole  history of the U.S. is one of conquest, murder, exploitation. The real reason it joined in World War Two was to steal the European empires in Asia. (a gamble that it lost.)

We all have false images and false, heroic statues. Never wonder how John A. MacDonald could afford the magficent house he built in Ottawa? Or how Brian Mulroney can afford his mansion in Westmount?

I think we would understand the past much, much better if we understood history much, much better.             

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February 28: Catching up.

There's a great deal I've had to leave out over the past week. (In fact, I'm still leaving some out. Too much is going on in the world.) But here's a start.

First - I've been taking a look at the site UNZ.  It has a wealth of material. And what I've read of it is pretty good. There's far too much   in it for me to cover in a single blog - and maybe not even in a year of blogs.

Now, we'll start with some pictures from The Guardian. I was particularly struck by the photo of two refugee children, alone and living on the street.  They're among the thousands who live like that so that billionaires can get richer.

Then there's the one of children in South America, playing on the muddy edge of a pit filled with water, the result of illegal gold mining. How long, do you think, it will take for one of them to slide in? Mining remains like that are common in South America. Destroying the environment is good for profits.

This reminded me of me as a kid. One of my favourite playgrounds was the city dump, a monster pit that had been a stone  quarry. I can remember, at the age of seven or eight, standing at the edge and looking straight down some 50 metres of  rock cliff to water and heaps of garbage, and the body of a dog floating in the water. In winter, I would go there at night with a piece of cardboard to slide down the snow-covered slopes, and glide along the edge of the quarry pit.

Such a place would never have existed, course, in any of the better parts of Montreal. As I looked at the photo, I was amazed that I had survived, and I wondered how many of those children would.
I include the next story of a man who murdered three people in the U.S. There are a couple of points worth thinking about in this.

The first is the caring and gentle response by the people of the town  (they're Mennonites).

The second is that the story will probably not make much appearance in most of the North American press. In part, that's because this sort of killing occurs at least every day in the U.S. But, if the killer had been a Muslim, there would be massive coverage, thunderings from Trump, and millions of dollars added to the billions spent on domestic spying - not to mention how American leaders and news media would use it to justify mass murders by Americans in the middle east, and Europeans would use it as an excuse to take no more refugees.
Then there's another one on the refugee crisis, this time in Greece as this country,  coping with its own, severe economic problems, is getting no help from other countries on its very Christian continent.
Donald Trump has been endorsed by David Duke,  former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Bush has refused to reject the endorsement, saying he was never heard of David Duke, and he knows nothing about white supremacist groups.

Well, gee, I'm just an ignorant Canadian, but I know lots about white supremacist groups in the U.S., and I have known about Duke most of my life because he had lots of press. Trump is either a liar ( and he's courting the racist vote), or he's so hopelessly out of touch with American affairs as to be an absurd choice for president of a local Parent-Teacher's Association.
For many years, Canadian groups have taken part in an international campaign to change Israel's brutal disregard of basic rights for the people of Palestine. The campaign is to get companies and institutions to divest themselves of investments in Israel, and to boycott imports from Israel. Leaders in this movement have been major churches and universities.

Whichever side you may be on, there is nothing violent or coercive or illegal about this.  The BDM, as the movement is called, is simply an example of our freedom of speech.

The Canadian government, led by Justin Trudeau, has condemned the movement. The man who has never condemned Israeli theft of Palestinian land, the Israeli blockade of all Palestinian borders, the denial of medical supplies to Palestine, the murder of Europeans who attempted to approach Palestine with things like medical supplies, has denounced those Canadians who dared suggesting perfectly legal actions to make Israel treat Palestinians more humanely.
This is the man who, before gaining power, supported BDM. Why has he changed his mind?

He changed it because extremist Jews in Canda have, for many years, been a very powerful lobby in support of Israel. There are also Jews in Canada who support Israel - but do NOT support what is is doing to Palestine but we don't hear about them.

There are also extremist Jews in the U.S. who constitute the Israel lobby which has strong connections with its Canadian equivalents. And it has piles of money. Here, in Canada, they have taken over what were Jewish community groups like B'Nai Brith, and have converted them into political pressure groups. The influence of pro-Israel extremism is very great, even though large (and growing) numbers of Canadian and American Jews are critical of Israel.

As well, the American government gives uncritical support to the government of Israel. That's why Trudeau backed away from his original position, and caved. Expect more, much more, of that from him. ( Canada also can, and does, put pressure on groups that support BDS by revoking their charitable status and other little jabs.)

All of the above I know from personal friendships ( and enemyships) in the Canadian Jewish community. Today's Israel has little to do with Judaic faith or teaching. If fact, it is a denial of both.

Happily, the extremist Jews no longer talk to me.
Here's a story that seems not to have made the news in the U.S. or Canada. It's about a triple murder in Fort Wayne - though, if you read the letters following it, it seems that even people in Fort Wayne never heard much about it.

The dead are Muslims. Were the killers, possibly, 'Christian'? Nobody seems to care. Now, just imagine the hysteria if that were reversed.
And now, thanks to a reader, here is a story you will never see in the Irving press. It hits on a major cause of New Brunswick economic weakness. Too bad professor Saillant didn't read it. (But, hey, how could a professor not know about this?)

Write a column about it, Norbert. I dare you. And talk tough. You know, the way you courageously attack teachers and civil servants.
This last story begins with how the Liberals lied to us when they said they would not reconsider buying the disaster-plagued F-35 fighter from the U.S.  But they now say they will reconsider it, and there are a lot of other promises they are reconsidering. The world of arms purchasing is perhaps the most corrupt field we have ever seen. This an article that tells us a great deal about what we can expect out of Trudeau.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Feb.27: making no sense

Page 1 headline, "Library move to Moncton High makes sense: deputy mayor." The importance of this statement is underlined by a large photo of the deputy mayor standing outside the school so that we can get important information about what the deputy mayor looks like, and what a school looks like.

And why does the move make sense? Well, because it's closer to the museum than the library is now. Duh, yeah; but it's also further from that other pillar of the arts in Moncton, the new hockey rink. In fact, the deputy mayor gives  no coherent idea of why the library move makes sense. And, in  the story, the chair of the library board suggests that he doesn't.

For a more intelligent discussion of Moncton High go to 'Letters to the editor'. It's the one by Jean Buchanan.

The rest of section A is the usual court news and other trivia.
Norbert has another rant, and a particularly ugly and hateful one. He is our equivalent of Donald Trump, a man who uses his own ignorance and hatred to foist himself as a leader to all those many people who live on ignorance and hatred.

He makes vague charges, offers no evidence for them And, like everybody at that wretched paper, pretends to discuss our economic problems without ever mentioning the word "Irving". Norbert, Mr. Irving is a member of our   government. That is not an accusation. He said so himself, and he said it in your newspaper on the page opposite your column. The government did not dispute it. Nor did you.

Get a dictionary,  Norbert. Look for F-A-S-C-I-S-M. Fascism means a formal inclusion of the wealthy into the government, itself, simply because they are wealthy.

How come Mr. Irving can dominate this province economically, can have a substantial control over what news we get, can get special deals from government whenever he wants them? You routinely attack civil servants and teachers. But I have never seen an article in this miserable, propaganda sheet that was critical of Mr. Irving or of anything he wants. What taxes does he pay? Are there taxes he avoids? How much does he cost the taxpayer each year? How much does he take out of the province each year? How much, or little, does he put back?

You say the government has not acted on the economy in the last 18 years. Norbert, no government in the history of New Brunswick has ever acted on the economy. They all have acted on the orders of the money barons of their time. That goes back to colonial days.

Brent Mazerolle has yet another pointless, little story that it pleases him to refer to as a commentary. However, it's a good way to avoid offending Mr. Irving, even by accident.

The president of UdeMoncton has a very interesting story about a major project on aging. It starts slowly; but it's worth hanging there to the end. Besides, old and aging are unpleasant words. Vieillissement sounds so much more distinguished. For even more distinction, couldn't we be referred to as vieillisseurs and viellisseuses?

And, while we're on language, Jo-Anne Moore has an interesting column on it.
Canada and World section offers slim pickings, indeed.
The lead headline, (hurry, hurry, read all about it) is that it may be possible to use wood to build higher rise buildings. Be still, my heart.

And there's another story about Dennis Oland that really says nothing we haven't already read many times.

There's a story about the Iran elections - and how the country is not yet fully democratic since the Ayatollah decides who can run. That's true. (And, for the matter, U.S. elections are scarcely democratic.)  But it might have mentioned that Iran once had a very healthy democracy. It was destroyed by Britain and France to please oil billionaires. Then Britain and France installed a hated and murderous dictator, The Shah, so they could rip off Iranian oil. Eventually, Iranians kicked out The Shah. But the damage was done. All Iran's progress in democracy had been destroyed. And, once destroyed it takes a long time to bring it back.

It's a useful reminder that the history of the U.S. has largely been one of destroying political and economic structures, then imposing dictators so that American big business can loot the countries. And if anyone complains about it, like Castro, he's evil and unAmerican - and a threat to American women and children. Maybe even a rapist like all them there Mexicans.

There is no mention of Yemen, or of Saudi Arabia's use of (illegally) Canadian-supplied weapons. And, as our news has barely mentioned, Canada's air force has twice (illegally) bombed Syria, and we are now (illegally) taking part in the war in Syria.

But there are two, New Brunswick stories that are worth reading.

One is that an independent commission has reported on the development of shale gas in New Brunswick. It did not look at the environmental problems that shale gas might cause, only at whether the government has met the other conditions to proceed. It hasn't. Popular support has a long way to go. Native peoples must have the final say on whether their lands can be tapped.

Then there is the problem of the market for shale gas from us. There isn't any. Saudi Arabia has deliberately destroyed the oil market; and we don't know when it will revive it.

Within the terms of its mandate this is a very reasonable report. And I'm a bit suprised it would take  more than a lunch hour to reach this conclusion. Certainly, the Council of Canadians is pleased with it.

Corridor Resources and its friends in the fracking industry are not pleased. Well, of course not. They don't give a damn about native peoples or about popular support. And if anybody creates problems, they can always rely on the government to send in the boys in camouflage suits with combat rifles. They are the new kind of police. They don't exist to protect us. They exist to intimidate us.
But why are they so eager to get started when the market is so bad? That's probably because they expect the Saudis will soon have to start boosting prices. Wow! Then we could frack the stuff for years to come.

It's interesting that the opinion pages were silent on this. The story was out in plenty of time to write a column.

There's also an important story that refugees are struggling to survive in Canada. Their  government allowance in this transition period is $1,300 a month. And that has to feed and house a whole  family for a month. They are having to turn to food banks. Surely, we should light a fire under our governments about this.
Then there's the Faith page.

The big story is that Duke University (in the U.S.) has set aside space for interfaith prayer. Why on earth is this a story? Canadian universities started doing this a good, twenty years ago.

Then there's the sermonette. Let's see. If Jesus were here, thinking about an important message for this world and our place in it, what would he choose? Would he talk about the millions of impoverished and starving people in Yemen that Canadian weapons are killing? Would he talk about the homeless in Moncton, and our responsibilities?

Perhaps the collapse of morality and law in most of the world, the suffering this is causing? Would He point to capitalism as the best model for Christians to follow? Would He declare the leading figures in the oil industry to be saints? Whose side would He be on in the middle east?

No, today's sermonetteer would never touch those, probably saying it would just cause controversy. (Which nicely ignores the fact that Jesus was a deliberately controversial person who was critical of the 'establishment'. That's why He was crucified.) Most of today's Christian clergy are in no danger of crucifixion.

Today's sermonette is that women have a role to play in the ministry as pastors and leaders. I certainly agree. But it has taken the churches 2,000 years to consider that to be reasonable. And it's still by no means common. In fact, the churches scarcely pioneered even this late development. Women have been demanding equality, usually without church support, for almost a hundred and fifty years.

And that raises another question the sermonette might have dealt with. While I agree with  the ordination of women, I know of no scriptural support for it. The inequality of women in our society - as in most societies - has its roots in Christianity and Muhammedanism and Taois and Hinduism, and just about every religion I ever heard of.

The idea of equality for women these days has nothing to do with faith, anyway. It's just going with the flow. And that's what most churches do. They just go with the flow. That's why their clergy bless bombs, go along with thieving and brutalizing governments and big business, and are routinely to be found on both sides in any war.

And I don't think Jesus came to go with the flow.
There's a site I've been avoiding because, well, maybe just because the pen name of the author bothered me. He calls himself The Saker. But last night, I read his blog. He knows his stuff. Also in the blog was his personal history. And I discovered I liked the guy. I also, to be candid, like his politics. He declares himself as being favour of capitalism for small business, and of socialism  (ownership by the people) for big business. He also favours  communism for purposes of international relations. I don't buy that latter one because I don't even know what it means.

He's a man of experience in foreign affairs, lives now (I suspect) in Russia. And he's chosen his sides in our various wars. (Name me somebody who hasn't.)
Then there's this interesting site that uses Wikkileaks to get information our news media prefers not to run.
I am not familiar with the source of this story. But I am familiar with the career of Hillary Clinton. And I think that, if anything, the author of this story is kind to her.
There's far more news on CBC than there ever is in the Irving press. And it's free. And it also has excellent commentary, which is quite a change from Norbert's ignorant ranting.
And here's an amusing one about Bell Telephone. CRTC ordered cable companies to offer a "starter" package for TV at $24.95. So Bell, has not only ordered its employees not to tell customers about it, but it has hitched on extra fees that would hoist it even above current levels.
Then there's this story that our Trudeau government is even less informative about its financial plans than the Conservatives were. That shouldn't be a surprise. The two parties aren't that far apart on basics. It just seems that way because the Conservatives have more nutbars.

To sum up where we are and where we're going....

1. There is not even a pretence of law and order on the international stage. Law and order were supposed to be major goals that we sent young people to die for in World War Two. That was supposed to be a major goal of the UN.
But the major powers killed that. And we puppets went along. Think of the implications of that.

If problems cannot be settled by law, then they can be settled only by war. That's why we've seen constant war for the last 15 years and for most of the years before that.

2. Quite apart from the effect of war in diverting money and resources from the real problems we face, our wars are destroying whole societies. Iran has only a shadow of democracy because we killed its democracy generations ago. Iraq is really no longer a nation. Large parts of it are outside government control. There really is no such thing left as an Iraqi people. Afghanistan has lost a century of development. We also supported the destruction of democracy in Egypt. We created a refugee crisis that can go a long way to destroying Europe - as well as destroying the countries those refugees fled from.

There is scarcely a country in the world that can be considered stable. And I would include the U.S. in that unstable list.

3. We have allowed capitalism to run free, to destroy our democracies by buying most of the politicians, by allowing capitalists to control our foreign and domestic policies, with that control now to be completed with deals like the Trans-Pacific Trade Partners.

4. We have made most of central America a hell-hole, and we have destabilized most of the continent - again because of powerful capitalists.

How do we make essential changes? It may be too late for that. Certainly, it is too late for the middle east, too late for most of South America. Much too late for the U.S. Anyone who tries to change the U.S. will find himself surrounded by riot police with armoured cars. Greed and corruption  have destroyed all that the U.S. has ever claimed it stood for. And it's going to get worse no matter who wins the election. And the angry who vote for Bush will get angrier because getting people angry is Trump's only talent, and people will then take their anger out on each other.

Canada is well down the path, too. I'm not sure it can be changed without violence. The wealthy and greedy won't allow change without a fight. And, they, controlling government, have the military and the police on their side.
I don't advocate violence. It commonly works out very badly, indeed. But the rich and powerful of this world have created a situation tailor-made for violence. Violence is commonly caused by the rich. It wasn't the peasantry of France who created the French revolution. It was the incompetence and greed of the King and his aristocracy. It wasn't Russian peasantry or even Karl Marx who created the Russian revolution. It was the Tsar and his aristocrats. The violent rise of communism in China was caused by the violent looting and humiliation of China by western capitalists.

Even the American revolution had less to do with freedom and democracy than it did with the ambitions of wealthy landowners like George Washington.

For Canada, there's also another question waiting on a not-too-distant horizon. Canada cannot defend its north. For decades, Americans have made a point of ignoring our claim to the Northwest passage by sending  ships through without asking permission.

There may well be valuable resources there, becoming more available as the climate changes. American military leaders right now are preparing to move forces up to the north, fearing that if they don't, the Russians and others will.
Some might say, "Great. If they want to defend our north, that will benefit us."
But it won't. If the U.S. defends the north, it will be for American corporations. There are no friends between nations.

Most worrying is that while the world faces enormous threats due to climate, economic collapse, mass migrations because of climate change. deterioration of societies and cultures due to greed and war, collapse of religious influence  (which was never great),  we pay no attention to these problems but bend our efforts and resources to serve the interests of billionaires.

Somehow, we have to find the courage and will to arouse ordinary people all over the world to the reality of what is happening.

Though I have often spoken in churches and synagogues, and  have even led many services in churches, I have never been interested in the rituals of religion, nor have I any interest in discussing whether Jesus was/is  the son of God. It has long seemed to me that what's important in all religions is the sense of values and behaviours they speak of.

But few of the churches or their congregations have ever seen it that way. For most, religion is not about changing our society. It's about fitting in to the mainstream and looking respectable to a world that has little idea of what respectability is. It's not unlike those people who get drunk so they can fit in with their friends. It's about the village mentality of fearing to seem different.

Where is this taking me? I'm  not sure.  I started the blog because I found the propagandizing of the Irving press was the worst I had ever seen in a world of propagandizing news media. But there comes a point when one has to look at answers to this problem. Yes, people have to be awakened to reality. But then?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Feb. 26: How capitalists are giving greed a bad name.

John Pilger is one of the great journalists of our time. (And our time doesn't have many of them.)
I could see no reason to read any news in section A of the Irving press. Well, there is one story by Brent Mazerolle that could have been interesting if he had done just a little bit of research, and phoning around the universities. Yesterday, Moncton set a new temperature record for this winter day, a record of warmth.
Actually, I had kind of noticed that, looking out my window at all the green lawns and the kilometres of bare grassland along the river. Could this possibly mean something, Brent? Could it have anything to do with climate change?
Nah. There is no climate change. If there were, Mr. Irving would tell us; and he'd help us.
The editorial is about the old Moncton High, and it's conversion to a library and theatre. As is the New Brunswick norm, all the editorial writer can think about is the cost. (Well, that's not entirely fair. When the hundred million dollar hockey rink was proposed, nobody at the paper gave a damn about the cost.)

Norbert has a quite decent column - if  not about one of burning issues of our time.

Cole Hobson's is decent; as is Brian Murphy's.

Alec Bruce's column isn't really a commentary at all. It's an utterly pointless story that looks as if it were written by Brent Mazerolle.

Oh, sorry. The last page has a story worth reading. It continues the saga of Chief Justice Smith, with the Gallant government responding to his charge that it was improper for the government to announce a veto over where judges could live. It was done while Justice Smith was on holiday, so the government saw no reason why it could not go ahead simply by telling his replacement about it.

And that is one hell of stupid reason to make such a change in the conduct of our courts while the Chief Justice is away.  What was the urgency? Doesn't the government have phones or computers? This one has a very bad smell.
Most of Canada and World is local. And most of that is trivial. And some of it is no news value whatever. For an example of the latter, check a headline on B1. "Hydraulic fracturing commission report imminent." That's like announcing, "I'm going to go to the bathroom this evening." (Fine. But I don't care. If you must, tell me what it was like when you're done.")

This story is half a page long, and really isn't a story at all. (Anyway, I think we can all guess what it will recommend.)

There's almost a half page of nothing about the U.S. Republican leadership debate of last night. Of course not. It hadn't yet been held when the paper went to press. This is another non-story.

There's almost half a page on smokers and drinkers paying  heavier taxes in Ontario. Do you really, really care?

In the whole of Canada and the World, there are three stories worth reading. Two of them are about missing and murdered indigenousl women. Just since 1980, 1,000 have been reported as murdered - and thee is some evidence that the number of murdered and missinig is really higher. and no Canadian government, then or earlier, has shown the slightest interest. Now, for the first time, there is some movement.

In the other story, the French government has been to bulldoze a vile piece of land that is a refugee settlement at Calais. Thousands live there in tents pitched, each touching the nest,  on mud, sometimes on open water, whole families including babies sleeping on the ground, and with almost no sanitation. They're at Calais because they want to go to Britain. But they can't because Britain is too bigoted and racist to let them in.

This is the real price of oil.

There's still not a mention of the suffering of the whole nation of Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world which is being starved and bombed by one of the richest nations in the world, Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia is being supplied with bombs and weapons by other rich nations like the U.S., Britain, ---and by Canada, the true north strong and free.

Oh Canada, we stand on guard for ---whatever.

There can be no doubt now. The lack of any news in the Irving press about Yemen is not accident or sloppiness or even ignorance. It's deliberate.
In the same vein, there is very little news about the middle east, despite the reality of what is going on there. What is going on is the early stage of World War Three. At centre stage, it's a war of Russia and Syria and Iran against the U.S., Britain, France, The Netherlands, ISIL, Iraq, Al Quaeda, Canada and a few others.

How many do you need for a world war?

The line-ups are confusing because the U.S. claims to fighting terrorism, but has been using major terrorist groups to be its proxies in fighting Syria. These include Al Quaeda and ISIL. As well, almost everybody else in the region is involved.

Then in other, and often related wars, you have Israel with its eye on Lebanon, Turkey with its determination to destroy the Kurds, Iran and Saudi Arabia struggling against each other for regional dominance...and so it goes.

The war on terrorism has nothing to do with terrorism. In fact, without western help the 'terrorists' wouldn't be able to function at all. The U.S. and Turkey have been working together to use ISIL and Al Quaeda to destroy Syria. The strategy now seems to be to destroy civil society in most of the middle east, creating a patchwork of  tiny and helpless states that can be used to keep our oil billionaires happy.

So far, Obama and Erdogan and others have been outplayed by Putin. That's why the U.S. is makiing noises about the Ukraine and moving in more troops and weapons. That is intended to weaken Russian support for Syria by forcing Russia keep more of its military at home.

And what if Russia continues to outplay the U.S.  and its friends? That's when we will all learn for sure that this is World War Three.
I really have to mention the best column in the paper. It's in the Life section, on C3. It's about bilingualism in New Brunswick, and it's by Mhairi Agnew, a grade 10 student at Moncton High.
The CBC has a story, missed by the Irving press, that disaster relief over the next five years will cost Canada $3 billion dollars. They say part of  the reason is climate change. But they should fire reporters who say that. We know that climate change is myth created by people who just look for trouble.
Then there's this story about children, often children on their own, in the Calais refugee camp.  This was done by us, by the whole western world. We did it as a favour to the very wealthiest of the oil billionaires, to make sure they could control all the profits of the oil fields.The wealthy will still have contempt for us, though, and wil treat us the same way when it suits them. After all, they are the superior race.

Think of those thousands of children, effectively orphaned by us. I cannot imagine a stronger image of pure evil.
There are site that I have long avoided in this blog. Some have been because I distrust them - and still do. But some are ones I have avoided because I know many readers will distrust them. I have used RT at times - because it has a story I know is true. But sometimes I avoid it because I know many readers will react negatively to it -   because it is a Russian source, and Russians, you know, aren't honest like our Canadian and American news sources are. But John Pilger's column, quoted above, put some backbone in me.
Pilger is a journalist as respect as they come. He frequently appears in The Guardian which is probably the best, English language paper in the world. And he says Information Clearing House is one of the five or six best news sources in the world. So I'm going to publish this one which I found in ICH, but which I will show in its original form which will flash red lights for some leaders. That's because the word socialist appears in the site's name.

But this story makes sense, and I've seen plenty of confirmation of it in the last several years.

And for readers who get goosbumps at the word socialist, I can only  ask whether you've notice that western papers with lie and propagandize never call themselves something like 'The capitalist times'. That, at least, would be honest for those papers which operate in the most repressive, police states in human history, which are owned by private capitalists, and which constantly lie to us.
And here's one ICH that I may already have mentioned in an earlier post, talking it from Haaretz.

Israel is not a democracy. It has deliberately and constantly abused the 20% of its population that is Palestinian. It has gone even further than the white folks in Alabama have done in destroying their homes, forbidding them on public transport, forbidding them even to walk on certain streets. walling them into ghettos. As Haaretz has often noted, Israel is profoundly racist.
Then, there's this prediction of a future that is very, very probable. The U.S. knows it, too. And it is quite possible that the major American capitalists will decide on a nuclear war to prevent this from happening. It would be a war that would, at the least, kill tens of millions, some of them us.
You don't think they would do that?

You don't think that the people who killed uncounted millions Vietnam (plus sixty thousand Americans), and since then have been killing in places like Guatemala and Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan would do such a thing?
Or you think they would realize it's a stupid thing to do because it could also lead to massive American deaths?

What on earth evidence do you have to believe that these people would not do something that is cruel, murderous and stupid?
Obama has long made it clear he has no intention of doing anything significant about climate change and renewable energy. Of course not. Any party that proposed that would be cut off from their billions in payoffs from the oil industry.

Nor has Canada made any great show of progress. As for New Brunswick...dream on.

Here's an example of how much most western leaders want more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

Like I said earlier - cruel, murderous, and stupid.
And here's one that should be no surprise.
Los Angeles is coming to grips with homeless people who were living in tents or nothing at all, but who  recently been moving into tiny shacks put up by concerned citizens. So the city has decided to take action. It's kicking them out, and destroying the shacks on the grounds they aren't sanitary.
Well, yeah. Nothing like a tent or a sidewalk if you want to be sanitary.
America: where all people are free and equal.
A final note for the day. The capitalist system and its leaders in the U.S., Canada, Russia, China, Britain and others are driving the world through dreadful hardship and terminal risk in order to make their wallets fatter.

Government by capitalism does not work. We have to put the brakes on these people. They have to learn  (and we have to learn) that world government by capitalists does not work. It never has.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Feb. 25: For God and country.

As I listened to Donald Trump last night, his words stirred a memory. It all came back to me from my teen-age years. I knew that speech. I had read it before in a book called Mein Kampf. It was about making Germany great again. It was about racial superiority - and racial inferiors who were not real people, and could only be hated and abused.

In Mein Kampf, God had blessed Germany just as God now blesses America.
There are really no policies in Mein Kampf, just as there are none in the speeches of Trump or his Republican competitors or Hillary Clinton. It's all words to stir the emotions with quasi-racist references, and patriotic words about an America that doesn't exist, and never did.

It's all about patriotism. Germans murdered Jews and Romas and gays as an expression of their patriotism. Americans slaughtered native peoples and Iraqis and Afghanis for  patriotism. The British murdered and plundered all over the world, and justified it as patriotism.
Canada has not been different. We murdered and deliberately starved native people to steal their land, and we have created a tragedy that continues to this day. We sent our soldiers to die while killing Dutch colonists (and their families)  in South Africa so wealthy British could steal the goldmines the Dutch had stolen from the native peoples of South Africa . We said, and still say, it was for God and country.

What the hell did murdering and stealing have to do with either God or country?
In the same vein, Trump appeals to the desire to make America great again. When was it great before? When it murdered its native peoples? When it stole half of Mexico? When it murdered Central Americans so its capitalists and ours could steal their natural resources? Was it great when it created brutal dictatorships in Haiti, Guatemala and others? When it stole land to create Panama and set up more dictators? When it stole Hawaii? When it invaded Canada?

Was it great when it went to war with Spain to steal Cuba, Puerto Rico, and when it slaughtered and tortured hundreds of thousands in The Phillipines and set up a U.S. military dictatorship, then a U.S. puppet dictatorship that lasted until a rebellion by the people just thirty years ago?

Was America great when it took over two years after 1939 to figure out that Naziism was a threat?

How can anyone believe all this crap? They believe it because that's the steady diet of our news and entertainment media. They believe it because that's what we teach in our schools. And that's not the fault of the schools. It's the fault of all us zombies who would be enraged if our schools taught the truth.

I'm not a great admirer of patriotism. There is no greater virtue in our patriotism than there was in Nazi patriotism. And now, the Canadian government calls on our patriotism to help oil billionaires who are destroying Syria. We do have obligations to every person on this earth. But you can't have the obligations we practice while at the same time being a patriot.

The  only presidential aspirant who would not fit right into Hitler's Third Reich is Bernie Sanders.  And he's not going to win.
The Irving press is better than usual today. The first page actually has news. However, it's alone in that.  A3 is a return to usual as its big story is about a new store in town which has announced it expects to make a profit. The headline is The Brick confident of their success in Moncton. That's not only trite and trivial. It also has a glaring error in grammar that I leave  it to you to find. Start with 'The headline is..'

The editorial page is quite decent, if painfully local. But I was startled by the last sentence of the editorial, ' care in Canada is expensive ...because it is among the best in the world.'

Health care in Canada is expensive? Compared to whom? It's far, far cheaper than in the U.S. In fact, it's out of reach for most Americans. ( Yes. I know many Americans have insurance but, if you think hard, editor, it will occur to you that insurance is part of the cost of American health care.) Do you have any figures to back up your bizarre statement?

In fact, Canadian health care is cheaper than U.S.  because it doesn't have to provide profits for rich owners. But I'm sure the Irving press will work to change that.

Rod Allen blew me away with a touching and effective column. This is superb writing that shows a real talent.

There's an excellent guest column about New Brunswick's Arts Board. Gallant certainly appears to be trying to take it over, probably for political purposes.

And a very solid column by Alec Bruce.
Canada and World news is, again, the worst part of the paper. It's mostly trivial. Much of it is even local. There's a big world out there, folks. And what happens in it affects us - as we should have learned in two world wars, Korea and Afghanistan.

However, there are two, important stories on B1. The first is the story of how the provincial government  has made a bizarre move to weaken the independence of the province's superior court. The other is about how a former Canadian commander in Afghanistan is questioning the way that war was conducted.
American leaders are obsessed with pure power and killing as a way of dealing with countries. That is what has caused chaos (and failure) in Afghanistan, the middle east, much of Africa, and will produce it in Latin America. This story is an important read.

Terrorist movements are created by terrorism inflicted on those people - by us. Inflicting more terrorism on them will simply create more terrorists.

As well, the type of war that is emerging does not follow conventional lines. It consists of thin streams of people reaching all over the world with random, individual acts that mean only small and personal losses for the attackers, while sending their target nations into frenzies. You can't fight that with tanks and bombers. This is a new kind of war, and we are fighting it as if this were still the 1940s.

B2 has an important story on the public-health emergency that has struck our native peoples. This, too, is an important read.

But that's it. Yemen, of course, and our mass terrorism in the middle east, don't exist.

And I cannot understand why this paper has never run a report of the sale and ownership of guns in Canada. When three police were killed here by a man using a combat-style rifle, we read of nothing but our devotion and thanks to the RCMP. And  we put up three statues. And some people, for reasons not clear to me, put fingerprints on them. But we haven't done a damn thing to help the police we are supposedly so grateful to.

It's not hard. What kind of guns are available for sale? Tell us something about what these guns are designed for. Tell us what the gun clubs are, and how they regulate members. Tell us whether we have any information about who has guns, and what the requirements for ownership are.

This is a story that doesn't need a Clark Kent to write it. Why won't the Irving press do it?
The European parliament has voted heavily against selling arms to Saudi Arabia because of its record of brutality and it's lack of respect for any human rights at all. Yesterday the British prime minister was bragging about the size of UK arms sales to Syria. And Canada, which has signed agreements not to sell arms to nations that ignore human rights, has been caught twice on big sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia. And it's stil doing it. And so is Britain.

For God and country.
This story is not important enough for the Irving press. But it's kind of important. The refugee system in Europe is breaking down - and Europe is breaking down with it.

Oh, I know it won't affect the building of our hundred million dollar  hockey rink. But the refugee crisis that's yet to come could h ave a tremendous impact - on the whole world. Wars create refugees, and the U.S. is constantly at war But it's not just the U.S. wars to worry about. All of the world's major powers are capitalist. And all of them are corrupted by capitalism. All of them. And since we allow capitalists to operate without any significant controls, they are destroying vast areas by encouraging climate change, by destroying food production even for the local populations by destructive methods as in, say, Canadian mining companies around the world. We are very likely to see hordes of refugees from South America, Africa, India, even from parts of the U.S.

Europe can't handle the crisis it has. The U.S. is not coping with its Latino refugees, and it won't even think of coping with the Syrian refugees it has created.

I won't even pretend to know what the best economic system is. But clearly, capitalism is a disaster without controls. It's a system based on self-interest and greed with no moral basis whatever. It has not created wealth for most of its subjects. Indeed, it has not even created basic living needs.  It has killed uncounted millions. It is displacing populations all over the world. It is creating massive suffering which leading capitalists plan to make worse. (There's no malice in it. It's just that their only interest is in making money for themselves. They really don't give a damn about anybody else.)

The wars between nations, certainly the last twenty years, have been wars between competing capitalists.  These are the most destructive people ever turned loose on this earh - and we are the ones who let them run loose. They, with their control over news and entertainment, have produced a U.S. no longer capable of rational thought, a nation that, like a dog tied up and repeatedly beaten, can only scream in rage.

I think we need a combination of controlled capitalism along with some socialism. (But that will probably put me on our gestapo's terrorist list.)
And it doesn't matter which of the great, capitalist powers you name. Try this one.

Gee. Just like New Brunswick.

The next excerpt is about the toll in death and injury on first responders to fires and accidents But it's not about injuries connected with the hazards of driving an ambulance or fighting a fire. And, while the story is about the U.S., it must be equally true for Canada.
The following is the kind of item that never makes the Irving press. The creation of Israel was one one of the greatest and most hypocritic blunders of modern time. The whole concept of an Israel was a racist one - except race was distorted to become synonymous with religion. I particularly regret it because it made the Jews who survived the holocaust into imitations of Hitler. It did tremendous damage to Judaism; and it's still doing it.

Since 1948, Israel has been displacing Palestinians, has killed thousands, has destroyed thousands of homes, has made economic development almost impossible, has persecuted even those Palestinians who are Israeli citizens, and has stolen much of their land. The objective, similar to Hitler's, has been to destroy them as a people and to annex all their land.
And, to support this view, here is the Jerusalem Post.
This one is from a biased source; (it's very left wing.) But the story is pretty accurate.
The following story was considered pretty important by the BBC. But, obviously, the geniuses at Irving press thought it too trivial. (They needed room for a big story on how The Brick expects to make money with its new, Moncton Store).

Oh, The Brick is connected with JDIrving Ltd. So I'm surprised the Irving press restrained itself from writing a whole, special edition about it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Feb. 24: A busy day for news.

Typical of the Irving press (and the nature of decision making in New Brunswick) is the lead story for today. The Moncton library might be moved into the old, Moncton High School.

Why?  Is it because of the location? Is it because the building is well adapted to library purposes? Maybe. But I doubt it. The only reasons mentioned in the story are economic. The school is no longer a school. There is no potential buyer for it. It would be expensive to tear down. And there's a vague hope that if the library occupied part of the building, that would attract business to rent other parts of it. (I have no idea why anyone would think that.)

Once again, Moncton and New Brunswick start at the wrong end of the stick. Intelligent government does not start with economics. It starts with social needs. And this story has not a word about social needs. Exactly what is the library for? So far as I can tell, it's major activity is providing a place for adults with crayons to fill colouring books.

The rest of section A news is largely about courthouse  hearings; (it's cheap and easy to gather)._
The editorialist, who is obviously a graduate of the Norbert Cunningham school of educational thought, says we have to cut teacher numbers because the number of students is going down. Again, the paper (like the politicians) starts at the wrong end of the problem.

You don't begin with dollar signs. You begin with social needs. And, far from beginning with social needs, the editorial writer obviously doesn't even know what they are.  Take a look at the last sentence.

"...if there are fewer students, you clearly don't need more teachers...."

Well, that would depend on whether you had enough teachers in the first place.  But this province didn't, and still doesn't. Then there's an assinine statement about maintaining non-teacher support staff for those teachers who remain. But if a class is too big, it's still too big no matter how many non-teacher support staff you stack to the ceiling.

This province has serious educational problems. And it's not because of the teachers or the 'bureaucrats'. It's because this province is obsessed with   'business models', is populated by people with little interest in education, and who are kept in ignorance of what education is about by the Irving press.
That's the sort of thing that is reflected in silly projects like the "Wild Reading Week." in which children race through a book to see who can read the most.  There are two things wrong with that.

1. Reading is not a contest like running the hurdles. It's purpose is to stimulate enjoyment and thought. You cannot  do both of those while being in a race. Over the years, I have had to speed read a great many books, including a 700 page history of peasant and town life in 17th C. France, written in French. It got me through an exam - but I really learned nothing.

2. A race produces one winner, only one. A Wild Reading Week will produce one winner per school. And hundreds of losers. Many children, perhaps most, won't even participate. It's an exercise that tells them they're losers, and rubs their noses in it. It produces people who dislike reading because it has been made simply a race, and a reinforcer of all the guilt that most of us feel because it builds on the fears we all have of being failures.

But the education experts at Irvinig press feel this is just what we need. And, if the owner of the paper is involved in this, it will doubtless give him yet another spot in the New Brunswick Hall of Philanthropic Fame.

Norbert has an obnoxiously worded column. But he's right that our provincial government seems lost at sea on dealing with eduction. Not as lost as Norbert is, but still lost. But note that both Norbert and the government see education as essentially an economic matter. That's a big problem for New Brunswick - always starting with the wrong end of the stick.

Brian Cormier, again, is bathroom reading  - at best.

There's a column on homelessness which is a reasonable and intelligent one. It's well worth a read. But it's wordy and a bit long, and it's not well designed for a general audience. I'm afraid few will read it.
Alec Bruce can have a bad habit of being both  wordy and vague. So I'm not sure, but I think today's seems to favour the oil pipeline.  But Alberta oil is being driven off the market by its high cost.   It's high because the Saudi cost is so low. And the Saudis have no intention of raising their prices to a realistic level until they've destroyed the competition - like Alberta.  All other considerations aside, Alberta oil is simply not competitive.
The lead story in Canada and World is about how our libraries are a burden on taxpayers. How diffferent, how very different from hundred million dollar hockey rinks that aren't at all a burden on tax payers!

There is, again, almost no world news and, certainly, no mention of how we are deliberately starving millions to death in Yemen.

There's a big story about how Canadian troops went to Afghnistan 10 years ago. It's spoken of as something to be proud of. Why?

That war has been lost. The mighty U.S., once again, could not defeat a small nation, and one of the poorest in the world.   The situation there now is far, far worse than it was 10 years ago. (I'll have more on that later.)  And I take no pride in sending 158 Canadians to die there, and 2,000 wounded in a war that had nothing to do with Canada. We should be ashamed of it. But, ten years later, millions of half-wits want us to do it all over again in Syria.

The only story in this section worth reading  is on B5. It's about the background to a racism that still flourishes in Nova Scotia. Many of the Blacks I knew in Montreal had their origins in Nova Scotia. Their ancestors came to Montreal because, though dreadfully racist, it wasn't quite as bad as Nova Scotia.
The US has lost the war in Afghanistan. We can pretend, for a little while, that it is still fighting. But. after fifteen years, it's effectively lost. The richest and most powerful military in the world has lost another war against a country that is both small and poor. It was a repeat of the Russian blunder that preceded it.

In fact, the richest and most powerful military in the world has won only a few wars since 1945, and only against much, much smaller states - like Haiti, Grenada and Guatemala. Winning means not only killing more people than the other side. It means achieving some objective the war was supposedly fought for.
But the U.S achieved nothing in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria or Libya. Sometimes, it branded some people as evil - and it killed them. But it achieved nothing by killing them. And, for that matter, most people have no idea why those wars were fought. All the U.S. has achieved with all its military power for the last 60 plus years is to get beaten by smaller countries, to create chaos that can never be repaired, to get British and Canadians and others killed in wars that have nothing to do with them, and to make them and  itself hated by most of  the world.

And this is the country that now wants us all to take on Russia and China.

Some 20 or 25 years ago, Afghanistan was a small, poor and backward country that was at last developing itself into a modern state. Then Russia invaded. Afghanistan held them off. But the whole drive to democracy and modernity was lost.  Then the U.S. invaded. Afghanistan held it off, too. But a century of progress has been destroyed.

The Russian and American invasions recreated the Afghanistan of century ago. Worse, it drove the people into extreme forms of Islam, and now into a world centre of rebellion and drug addiction with profound effects spreading from Afghanistan to Pakistan to the U.S. and to Canada.,_washington's_twenty-first-century_opium_wars/

Has Afghanistan gone communist? No. It's much worse than that. It's gone capitalist. And capitalism is the force that has driven the U.S. into wars after wars that, even on the rare occassions when they are military successes, are social disasters. Wars just don't work any more.

There has been a tremendous change over the last 60 years or so in the conduct of war. But we are acting as though this is still the age of empires. Europe has, for a century, been experiencing a profound decline in both economic and military power, and even in the glue that holds its nation-states together. Watch for more break-ups. And remember that any weakening of Europe means a weakening of North America.
Then there's the story that will never make the Irving press - or most news media. The U.S. government, for years, has been bugging private meetings of world leaders like the chairman of the U.N., presidents and prime ministers, etc. It listened in on private meetings between the UN's Ban ki-Moon and other leaders.
Why? The meetings were about climate change. And the U.S. bugged them to help its oil billionaires fight off any changes that would affect their profits.
That's a bite of the real world. Capitalists kill for profits. That's why Syrians have to flee their homes. That's why over a million Iraqis were murdered. Would they kill you with climate change? Of course. They are already doing it, and they plan to keep doing it. The greatest threat we face is not ISIL. It's not Russia. It's the happy, greedy, immoral, and stupid killers who own our oil industry - and our governments.
Texas now insists that students  must be permitted to carry guns to public universities.  (It can't force private universities to obey such a  law - and all of them have refused to allow it.)
In the public universities of Texas, teachers are now advised to avoid discussion of topics or views that might prove controversial; and some courses have been dropped to avoid this. Professors are also warned to avoid getting publicly involved in any issue that is controversial.

Hey, that's what university is all about - packin' heat. If this sounds insane, that's because it is insane. And this reflects political thinking in much of the U.S. This is a society cruising for a social breakdown - and soon.
And here's another one you're not likely to see in the Irving press.
The following is a long and sometimes amusing, sometimes frightening collection of impressions formed in following the Trump campaign. The writer refers to it as insane; and I think he's right. People are not voting for Trump for any policy because - he doesn't have any. Neither do  his Republican competitors. What he has is a coarseness and a brashness the others don't have. We are watching insanity - a nation that's mad and doesn't know why it's mad and doesn't know what it wants done. And it doesn't care what government policies are or should be. They just want a blowhard who represents their unnamed hatreds.

As well, it's a nation smothered in propaganda and delusions about what it stands for. Neither Clinton nor Trump has anything to offer. This is an election that could lead to one hell of national, social breakdown for the U.S
The following opinion takes up much the same line, and I think it's true. The voters are angry. They don't really understand why. But they're angry. That's why they're voting for a Trump who really has nothing to offer. This isn't an election. This is loading the guns for real and ignorant violence.
And New Brunswick is not the only place playing an insane game with with glyphosate sprays. The European union intends to legalize their use in what looks like a highly political decision that has raised strong criticism and anger among scientists. Read the whole story to get the full meaning of it. And to make you wonder exactly how decisions are arrived at in New Brunswick.

It's been a good day for The Guardian.
Here are two items by Paul Craig Roberts, one of the most intelligent and honest columnists I've read. He talks about how countries (and provinces) are bankrupted by capitalist hired hands so that they fall under the thumbs of thieving bankers and other capitalists. The latter then use their power to force governments to privatize, cut services, (and education and health care)  and generally plunder the country (or province.)

For some reason, I kept thinking of the Irving press as I read this.
Then there's this little gem about how the U.S. airforce and other government agencies are basing policies on a bizarre study. Millions of half wits will believe this study. And many of those half-wits who already believe it are important people in fields like national security.

In fact, Christianity, Judaism and Islam all are strongly rooted in the belief in male superiority. Until very recently, women played a lesser role in the religious life of the synagogue. And they still do. Among orthodox Jews, it is rare for a woman to be allowed to choose her own husband. Religious values, though most of history, have compelled women to accept strict dress rules in daily life, and compelled them, into the sixties and later, to wear hats in Christian churches.

Ever notice that Jesus didn't have a single, female disciple? Ever notice that for millenia. the Jewish and Christian God have been male? Notice it took Christian women almost 2,000 years to get the vote?

If the theory in the article above is correct, then it means that almost all women in the world are passive terrorists, and they have been for thousands of years. So, men, watch your backs.
I have much, much more. But supper beckons.  I'll pick up from here tomorrow - and hope I don't face another flood of new material.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Feb. 23: We need an Irving to be King Canute

Al Jazeera and The Guardian carry the story of a rapid rise of sea levels, the most rapid in 2800 years. This is the claim of a study conducted by NASA which blames the rise on our burning of fossil fuels. The greatest rise will be on the East coast of the Americas. (That's us.)

But what does NASA know? Anyway, we need a pipeline so the world can burn even more fossil fuels. And we'll make regulations so tough that the sea won't dare rise. We can trust people like Mr. Irving on this. He loves New Brunswick. I know that because he said it in a big ad just last week. And if you can't trust an ad, what can you trust?

The Irving press doesn't have the story. It needed the space for yet another story on Dennis Oland that says nothing.
In fact, the whole of today's issue of the paper has only one story worth reading - the one about Russia, U.S. and Syria arriving at a  cease fire agreement. And hold the joy on that because it's most unlikely to last.

The editorial writer had a good idea for an editorial - making the fluoridation of water a city election issue. Alas, it seems to lose focus half way through so that by the end, the reader has lost track of what it was all about. The final paragraph is just three words that really isn't even a sentence. It reads,
The Polio vaccine.

I'm serious. that's what it says. It doesn't seem to be connected to anything.

Norbert has another brainless rant about education. The civil servants who run it are incompetent, says Norbert. He claims he has given evidence of this. Actually,  he never has. He's spit bile. But that's all he's ever done. Apparently he's unaware that there are many rankings of education for every country in the world. All of them show Canada, including New Brunswick, to be among the best.

And, apparently, he's never heard of the impact of social conditions on education. Jewish chidren, for example, tend to do better than Christians. Ditto for Chinese vs. Canadians. It's not because they're smarter or their schools are better. It's because their societies encourage learning.

New Brunswick society doesn't. That's why New Brunswick society reads columns by a Norbert Cunningham who writes for the incompetent, trivial, propaganda papers of the Irving press. That's why we never get a report on the killing and starvation in Yemen. But we get trivial gossip stories on Dennis Oland every day.

Norbert closes by saying we should look at teaching practices all over the world. That's dumb, Norbert. I have taught in several parts of the world. And every year, I taught students from all over the world. I have taught in The Netherlands where my students were commonly fluent in four or five languages. I have taught in China where all my students were at least bilingual, and  where teaching methods are less advanced than in Canada. But their work was still of high quality. I have taught hundreds of Jewish students whose work was commonly as good as that of Christians and better - though both groups had come through the same school system.

It's not just the schools that teach children. It's the society they grow up in. New Brunswick is not a thinking society. (Get serious, Nobert. If New Brunswickers did think, who would read your dreadful newspapers)?

I don't know, Norbert. Maybe you're just a born ranter. Maybe you're kissing up to Mr. Irving because he wants more privatization of schools. Maybe you attack civil servants because they get in Mr. Irving's way while  he's looting this province.

But I do know one thing. This column is ignorant and utter crap. It reminds me of a bad imitation of a retarded Donald Trump suffering a bout of severe ignorance.

Alan Cochrane writes a 'commentary' about the Oak Island Mystery. I do wish the Irving press editors  would tell their columnists what a commentary is. I understand the VP of the Irving press is an Irving (of course) who went to journalism school. He must have been absent the day they covered commentaries.

The best read in the paper is on C12. It's by Jana Giles, a grade 12 student at Moncton High. Our critic of education, Norbert, wouldn't be able to write something as intelligent and insightful as this one.
You may have noticed that the irving press hasn't said much about the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership that we may well  become a part of. Essentially, it has two purposes. One is to isolate China and Russia. The other is to complete a process that began several hundred years ago.

In its early days, capitalism needed the help of the nation-state. In particular, it needed it to provide soldiers to fight the wars of capitalism, the ones we call 'empire building'. In the process, as  capitalism grew, it was able to buy governments, making it easier to be sure of getting warships and armies when they needed them - and at no charge.

With the rise of democracy from the eighteenth century to today, democracy itself  could be bought off because of the cost of elections. Very early, lobbyists became a familiar sight in Washington. (The were called lobbyists because they met in the lobby to make deals with congressmen.)

Democracy proved to be a superb system for the rich because most people couldn't afford to buy congressmen. But the rich could. In that way, they acquired the real ownership of whole nations. That's been strengthened even more for the last century by ownership of almost all news media by the very rich. That's been true of  the U.S., Canada, Britain, and many others. So, if Hillary wins in the U.S., she will have done it with most of her money coming from the war industries. Guess what that will mean in terms of corrupt and inflated contracts, and in wars.

Gets what it means in terms of housing, social services, food, pensions, education for 99% of our people.

The result is we have a legal framework of government by the people. But our real government is by the very wealthy. We have now come to the point at which the very wealthy are so powerful, they no longer need the framework of the state. As well, elections can go  wrong. Democracy long ago became a fiction. Now, it has become simply a nuisance for the wealthy.

The Trans-Pacific trade deal gets rid of that nuisance by making it illegal for governments or their people to interfere which what big capitalists want. It will be, for example, illegal to protect our environment. Oh, technically, it might be possible - but only by paying huge sums to capitalists who don't want it protected.

This is close to the final step in destroying the nation-states and their nuisance democracies, and to make the super-capitalists the kings of the world
Here's an outline and an opinion in al Jazeera. (You're not likely ever to find it in the Irving press.)

The Guardian's business columnists see the deal as a disaster.

Even the Charlottetown Guardian published a criticism that was a letter to the editor.
But the Irving press doesn't like to get readers over-excited.
Perhaps the most depressing thing I saw in today's Irving press was a letter to the editor. I'll just put a few extracts here because, though I have a printer, it's only a printer.

The letter says that the mayor of Montreal opposes an oil pipeline because a spill would endanger the Beluga whales of the gulf. But, it goes on, the mayor of Montreal has approved the spillage of sewage into the St. Lawrence.

True enough. but how does one, anti-environmental act justify commiting another one?

Then it says that such people as the mayor of Montreal would rather use petroleum from the middle east and Venezuela where people have no rights.
Ahem. Usually, the reason these people have no rights is because we support governments that destroy civil rights - as in Egypt, Turkey, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia. The destruction of rights is common in Africa and South America because we encourage the destruction of rights, often with armed force and mass murder. It pleases our capitalists who have investments there. We have murdered hundreds of thousands to destroy rights. We  have installed dictators. We did it in Haiti and Cuba and Guatemala and many others.

The U.S., by the way, has been destroying human rights in its own country for many years. The President of the U.S. has, and uses, the power to imprison and even murder American citizens without charge or trial. It has no legal authority to torture, but uses it, anyway. It has the power to spy without warrant, on its own people. Parts of the above are common in Canada, too.

U.S. police forces are being equipped with armoured cars, even tanks, machine guns... Those are for use against people demanding their rights. Canada is doing the same, if in milder tone. The use of special RCMP in camouflage suits and with combat rifles at Rexton was in step with U.S. methods. It was incompetent, perhaps to the point of insanity, to station such militarized police in front of a crowd that was overwhelmingly a peaceful one. It would have been impossible to fire those rifles without killing large numbers of innocent people. And I notice there has been no investigation into that incident.

Then it has the remarkably dumb statement that we need oil unless we want to return to the dark ages.    In fact, oil did not come into use until well AFTER the dark ages. And continuing to use it will take us back to the days BEFORE the dark ages when there were no people at all.

How can a person be so illogical and simplistic? How can a person not see the destruction of rights and of people when we are doing the destroying?

I learned why even as I read it. It read just like a commentary in the Irving press, perhaps one by Norbert. The owners of our news media deliberately make us blind to the evil we do. They deliberately encourage an emotional logice that isn't logic at all. And that produces the attitudes we see in this letter - and all of it done with the indignation of righteousness.
And there's an excellent column, as always,  by Paul Craig Roberts about 'presstitutes'. I thought of the Irving press as I read it.
The U.S. is, by far, the world's largest exporter of murder. Its arms industry (like Canada's) sells pretty much to anybody who has the price. Here's a sample of it in Yemen - the country the Irving press pretends isn't there.
And, for those Irving staffers (Norbert Cunningham springs to mind) who babble about how private business is so much more efficient than public ownership in operating a medical system, the following item is a useful corrective.

Monday, February 22, 2016

When I was twelve or thirteen in Montreal, I would often pick up my .22 rifle on a Saturday, and walk an hour or so to where the city ended, then head into the bush (now a suburb) to do some target practise. Just before the bush, I would pass a great, stone fortress that always gave me a shiver. It was Bordeaux jail.
At one time, people gathered there for its entertainment, the hanging of prisoners. By my day, the public hangings had been ended in favour of more select gatherings. But until Canada abolished executions, Bordeaux jail was the biggest hanging place in Canada. The total of executions in Canada from 1867 to 1962 was something over 700.

Canada also executed its own soldiers in World War One though, unlike Britain and France it did not execute them in large numbers. The total was about 25, almost all of them for desertion. Well, of course, some deserted. They weren't really criminals. But they were in the trenches of a war of unheard of horror. Okay, call them cowards. They were kids under constant bombardment by artillery, machine gun fire, snipers. They lived in trenches filled with mud and crawling with rats. It's easy for us to sneer at them as cowards. But how many of us  could stand that month after month? And, in any case, is fear a good reason to kill people?

There are countries that still execute, of course. We hear, with righteous horror, of how ISIS cuts off the heads of people. (So does our good friend, Saudi Arabia. Of course, our friend Saudi Arabia does not kill them for trifling religous reasons. No. It kills them because, for example, women are meant to be inferior to men, and so should not drive cars...Cut off her head.)  Anyway,  beheading sounds terrible. But it was used in France until something over forty years ago because it was a quick (and merciful) death. Actually, killing by hanging or electrocution or injections can be worse than beheading.
But Americans rise in disgust at such killing when done by ISIS. And that's curious because the U.S. is the only western country that still has the death penalty. The executions were public entertainment until 1936. You can still see those and later ones on Youtube.

The governor who was the champ for executions was a devout Christian and swaggering grinner named George Bush jr. In six years as governor of Texas, he hanged 154. He consistently refused to use his power to stop the executions.
Alas! Champions fade. His successor as governor hanged a new record - 251.

The U.S., always eager to point the finger at others, never looks at itself. And it gets worse.

Polls show that to this day over 60% of Americans approve of the death penalty. And it gets worse.

The death penalty is also approved by over 60% of Canadians.

That's why a story that didn't make the Irving press caught my eye recently. Pope Francis called for an end to the death penalty. It caught my eye also because I suddenly realized I had never before heard a Christian clergyman call for an end to the death penalty. I suppose it must have happened. But, oh, it must be rare.

We have no need to look overseas for evil.
The front page of today's Irving press is useful only for what it doesn't say. The headline is that the provincial government will cut the number of its teachers. In the story, it gives figures for the decline of student enrolment to justify cutting the teachers.

Does all that sound reasonable, and good reporting?

It isn't.

The decline in the number of students tells us nothing. The key questions, which the report never asked, are 1. What is the number of students per teacher? 2. What is the number of students per teacher that New Brunswick needs.

As always, the Irving press treats all issues as economic ones - just as if it were like running a business. But this province is not populated only by businesses. We have people, too, real human beings with real children with needs that this story doesn't bother looking at.

If you want a really dumb statement on all this by the Conservative education critic, Gary Crossman, it's on A2.  He says there should be a correlation between declining enrolment and the number of teachers. Oh? So if we have 50 students per class and it drops to 40, we should fire teachers?

Gary, kid, an education system is not like a Dairy Queen chain. First, you have to decide what it is you want to achieve with these children. Then you look at how many teachers you will require.

Then he babbles that this is a good time to work on quality. Why is firing teachers a good time to work on quality? What do you mean by 'quality'?

He goes on, (this guy should be on a leash). "You want your best teachers with the best fit at the best grade level?" Well, yeah. That's not a flash. Nobody would say, "You want your worst teachers with the worst fit at the worst grade level."

But, though I've taught all my life and at every grade level , I can't even figure what the hell his words mean.  Close your eyes, Gary, and think really, really hard. You are strongly implying that the system is low on quality (whatever you mean by that). Wasn't it your party that was in power just a short time ago? So you're telling us the Conservatives screwed up the education system?

New Brunswick has challenging education problems. And you're not going to solve them by firing teachers and stuffing 25 kids in a class. Among those problems are the parents, the large rural population, the social atmosphere. The children are illiterate because this is a society that doesn't give a damn about literacy. (That's why we have the worst funded library system in Canada.) They don't learn to think because New Brunswick is hostile to thinking. That goes back to the old days of the lumber barons when thinking things the boss did want  you to be thinking could get you fired with no hope of another job. That fear is still alive.

It also shows up in that people accept a newspaper chain that's designed to spread ignorance and prevent thinking. (The same is true of private radio in this province.)

All this is reinforced by the high degree of ruralism. Living in the country or village, it's important to be accepted by others. That means it's dangerous to think differently from others, to have different interests. And the children growing up there grow up in that state of mind. You're not going to cure that by firing teachers.

This province needs as many teachers it can get. It also has to encourage to them enrich their teaching with graduate training   (and, in fairness, it does do some of that.)

Above all, it needs to find more ways to encourage thought for children and students. Oh, and it desperately needs politicians who know that education is about people. You cannot start by picking some number of  children out of the air, divide them by ten and take the square root as the number of teachers you need. You have to start with the people and their needs.

Save the babble about correlations and undefined quality and best fit best grade level. Save that for a speech at a Chamber of Commerce dinner.  They'll love it.
But education is not a business. And children are not numbers.
The editorial touches on a related point.   It mentions that  a high proportion of the refugees coming here are children. Think about that. These are children who speak neither English nor French. They've had little or no chance for schooling.  And we're going to fire teachers?

I went to school with kids like that. (And also Syrian.) They did well. One boy, terribly crippled by polio, became a noted lawyer. The Syrians did well because they lived close together. They were a community within ours, so they lived in a world that was not entirely alien. Their social centre was the nearby Syrian church, and their anchor was Father Zarbatany.

In the same way, I grew up with Italians who lived in a neighbouring district with the Casa d'Italia  their social centre. They lived in my world, and they also lived in their world. The system worked well for them and for all of us.

That's why I'm disturbed to see hints that the government wants to scatter them all over the province so they will integrate. That's the worst possible thing to do. They need the security of a transition period  so they can live in their world while becoming accustomed to ours

We should not be in a great, big rush to make them just like the rest of us Canadians. In fact, we shouldn't want them to become just like us. This province needs more people who are different from us. Yes, we will change them. But, given a chance, they will change us a bit and, in my experience, for the better.
After all, before you pat yourself on the back about how you are a pure Canadian -----there is no such thing by any definition I can think of. My origins are Scots and Irish and French and Spanish and west Asian barbarian. I have no idea which culture I should have. In any case, all cultures constantly change. The children of today are quite different from those I taught only twenty years go. And (I hope) I have a different culture from your average west Asian barbarian.

Norbert has a decent column. But he just cannot stop himself from boiling himself into a rant. In dealing, quite intelligently, with bigots who call native leaders corrupt, he rips into corrupt, provincial politicians who wildly overpay themselves.

Gee, Norbert. If you know that, how come you've never written a column about it? Was Alward corrupt? Gallant? Name names. Give us numbers.
While you're at it, how about a piece on corrupt and corrupting big businessmen   who give themselves and their executives dreadfully inflated salaries which  have risen by hundreds of percentage points just in the last decade? Names. We want names. And we need to know who is corrupting our politicians. Any ideas, Norbert?

There's nothing worth reading in Canada and World, not in all four of its miserable pages. Again, of course, Yemen doesn't exist.

The section's front page headline is, again, about Dennis Oland. There must be a plan behind all this. But I can't guess what it might be.
 Yesterday, I commented on US General Eisenhower's mass murder of German prisoners after the end of World War Two. The count seems to have been worse than I realized. At the bottom of the page cited here is the issue of Saturday Night magazine in which the story first appeared.

This was sent to me by a reader who also sent the following accounts.

We have to remember that most wars produce crimes on both sides. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were both war crimes since the deliberate targets in both cases were civilians.

I find that military historians don't like to discuss this sort of thing. My daughter once asked me about a memorial to a Canadian soldier in World War One.  The story she heard was that he was captured by the Germans, tied on a cross, then held up above the trenches in the poor light of early dawn. The Canadian trenches opened fire, and cut him to pieces.

I had heard of this story before, but didn't know much about it. So, on a chance meeting with one of Canada's leading military historians, I asked him about it.   I was astonished when he face went red with fury, and he dressed me down for asking such a question. So I did my own checking.

The Germans captured a Canadian, and held him up to be killed by his own comrades - as revenge against those Canadians who had murdered prisoners in their care. The historian ignored all the evidence because some of it made Canadians look bad.

As  I later learned (from a Canadian general), something similar happened in World War Two when the Canadians, advancing in France, capturerd a large number of Germans, then murdered them and threw the bodies in a river. The general knew because he had seen the surrendered Germans being marched along the other side of the river and, soon after, saw their bodies drifting down.

We are all, I'm afraid, human. We all have the capacity to murder. Wars are not between good guys and bad guys. They're all just between people.

And don't trust military historians. Any one I have ever met turned out to be a person who lusted for the favour and applause of The Canadian Legion. They partularly love to be invited to regimental mess dinners, and to be accepted by the officers there as kindred souls. I suspect they feel guilty about never having served in a war.
There's an excellent series of films on the Canadian roles in World War Two. But it sometimes showed our own rough spots, so The Legion and War Amps launched a tremendous campain to smear it. The Conservative party joined in because it was made by National Film Board which is owned by us, all of us. And Conservatives (like Norbert) don't believe we should own anything.
To see the films, google Canada at War NFB. (There's a fee to see them by computer.)
There's a brilliant column in Haaretz called 'funny Jews'. I'm  having trouble getting it - so you're on your own for the search. It begins with a statement I know to be true from experience. Jews have a tremendous sense of humour. It's a very distinctive kind of humour - very self-deprecating. Then the author takes me to something I had not realized.

1. Jewish humourists (like Woody Allen) dominate theatrical humour is the U.S., being  80% of the professional humourists.

2. Israelis are not funny at all. (I didn't know that.)

3. Jews who have historically lived in what is now Israel (they're called hassidic) don't have that sense of humour. It's the Europeans Jews, the Ashkenazes, who have it. Actually, the two groups don't even look alike.

Then the writer explains all this. The Ashkenaze lived as a despised minority in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. They used a self-deprecating humour as a defence against those who despised them.

The Hassids never developed that humour because arabs did not despise them. They lived quite comfortably with their neighbours (Until we created Israel, and kicked most of the arabs out of their homes.)

The Jews of Israel never developed such a sense of humour because most of them today, whether Ashkenaze or Hassidic, were never a minority or victims.
That deserves some thinking.

As a hint of the type, try this one. A Jew raises his hands to heaven and says, "you made us your chosen people. Why did you have to pick on us?" And you have to say it in a wail.

It's also explained at the website below
Unnoticed by the Irving press, much of Europe is disintegrating. The article mentions four countries; but there could well be others such as Britain. The refugee crisis is part of the cause. It doesn't mention the greater cause - the rate at which American wars and foreign policy have been de-stabilizing societies all over the world - on our side as well as all the other sides. And, as we should have noticed, within the U.S. itself.

Nor can we expect the American election to solve any problem. Only one of the political candidates, Bernie Sanders, has even noticed the profound social problems that are destroying the U.S. And he's not going to win.
The others are embarassing even to watch. They seem oblivious to all the danger signs - the racial hatreds, the astonishing murder rates, the biggest prison population in the world, the drift of almost all the money into the pockets of the rich, the spread of poverty, the irrelevance of the election system, the dreadful state of American education, the stunning corruption of government and the arms industry.. Instead of having policies on this, they call each other names or dream up whacky priorities like building a wall along the Mexican border..

At the best this will have a harmful fallout in Canada. In fact, as I look at the terrible state of our democratic system, the power we  have given to the rich and greedy, our getting involved in U.S. wars of pure greed and slaughter, the fallout is already happening.
It may be happening in another area, too. In a story that, typically, the Irving press didn't carry, another Canadian company has been selling weapons to Saudi Arabia despite the fact that our official policy is not to supply weapons to countries with bad human rights records. And Saudi Arabia has one of the worst human rights records in the world.

The Liberal government has the power to stop that. But it won't. Whatever the Irving press may tell us, we can be sure that the rest of the world knows exactly whose game we are playing in the middle east