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.

1 comment:

  1. Trump is on a serious roll. He is galvanizing and energizing the Raving Yahoo segment of the Republican Party into a powerful voting block . The Sanders campaign is foo cerebral for these people.