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.             

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