Saturday, February 6, 2016

Feb. 6: I knew this would be a bad day......



…...when I opened the Canada and World Section to see that four of the eight pages were taken up with photos of babies born in 2015.

In this world teetering on the edge of World War Three, with Europe stumbling into chaos because of the refugee question, with thousands being killed or dying of hunger every day in the middle east, with ISIS spreading into Asia, with the U.S. planning to send more troops to Europe (perhaps to intervene in Ukraine, the Irving press had room for only two stories outside Canada – the collapse of a crane in New York, and “Canada eases sanctions against Ukraine”.

Oh, and a front page story in the world section to be careful about kissing pregnant Brazilian women. I'll have to remember that.

And the Faith page? The message is that Jesus loves you. (tweet, tweet.) No details. Just Jesus loves you. If you want to know what that means in the real world, you'll have to read what Pope Francis has been saying. I'll try to remember to include some of that in this post.

Section A? There are two front page stories on proposed changes to our health care system. Both are so vague, they will mean nothing to most readers (including me.) Both mention that the medical profession opposes the changes. But there isn't much on that part and, anyway, their objections are buried at the bottom of each story; and journalists know that few readers read that far.

Page A10 has a story on former Chief Medical Officer for New Brunswick, Dr. Cleary. It tells us nothing we didn't already know (which isn't much.) However, there is evidence she was an annoyance to Mr. Irving because of her criticism of some of his actions which affect the health, and even the lives, of New Brunswickers. (I gave evidence of that in a recent blog.)
The editorial is another safe and uninformative one about refugees. Again, it suggests we should accept them because it will be profitable for us. That's a distasteful reason, and it's a trite editorial.

Norbert again rants on a topic he knows nothing about. (Note to Norbert. If you check the Oxford English Dictionary, you will learn that 'preventative' is a misspelling of 'preventive'. )

Brent Mazerolle has a long commentary that should really be a short news story – and not a very interesting one. Mr. Mazerolle, the purpose of a commentary is to make us think. I have yet to see one of your columns that does that.

Jo-Anne Moore's column, as always, is well-written, and worth reading. But I'm not sure it's really a commentary. The editors should give thought to a family page – which could be a very useful one with columnists of her quality.

Then, we come to Donald Savoie who is Canada Research Chair in Public Administration and Governance. And I'll bet U de Moncton is bustin' its buttons over this one. This column is pure tripe and brown-nosing for Mr. Irving.

He repeats the old stuff. You know, the wealthy create jobs and prosperity. Dr. Savoie, if that is true, how come the people of the Congo where wealthy foreigners make billions out of its resources, is a place where few children can go to school because the rich won't pay taxes?. How come children have to work and die in the mines from the age of seven? How come almost everybody is miserably housed and clothed because pay is so miserable?

Why are the people of Guatemala suffering low wages and dying of illness because there is no affordable medical care? Where is all the wealth that our Canadian billionaires have showered on them? And how come the mining companies make big money while the people earn little – and get murdered in the hundred of thousands if they complain about it?

Tell us all about how China and India flourished in the days of British Imperial capitalism. And tell me why, in those days, the British people lived in slums as foul and disease-ridden and dangerous as any in the world – while the rich lived in splendour?

Tell how Mr. Mandela was a fool for not being grateful to white capitalists for all the joy and prosperity they had brought to South Africa.

And, Mr. Irving, bless his heart, we are told is a local boy who would never dream of closing an unprofitable operation in New Brunswick, unlike what foreign companies do. Yes, we see this every day as Mr. Irving's refineries continue to provide jobs and prosperity even though he loses millions on them.

The private sector creates jobs and prosperity? So why why is the wage gap, almost everywhere in the world, including New Brunswick, widening? In fact, a high proportion of jobs is in the public sector – and the private sector seems anxious to destroy those jobs, partly so it can hire more million dollar a year executives and other high-level flunkies?

The present government of New Brunswick has no experience of government and management? Dr. Savoie – the present government of New Brunswick is largely made up of people who were the government just a few years ago. It doesn't lack experience. It lacks ethics, principles and morality.


In a democracy, we cannot leave the definition of the common good to politicians, says Dr. Savoie. Dr. Savoie, we elect the politicians. We have done it very foolishly, but we elect them on the basis of what they define to us as the common good. Politicians are supposed to put forward their ideas on the common good. That is supposed to be why we have elections – to elected the ones we agree with.

Who do you want to define the common good? The Irvings?

He also thinks we have to many self-interest groups interfering. The only self-interest groups he names are public servants. What the hell does he think private business is if not a special interest group?

Of course, Mr. Irving would never interfere in government just for his own self-interest.

And, oh yes, he writes if we don't agree with the government, we should run for government. You tell 'em, baby.

Except it costs money to run – and guess who gets the money and from whom? Anyway, how can you run and win in a province in which almost all the local news and opinion we get is controlled by Mr. Irving?

He also tells us the global economy is here. Well, duh, yeah, it's been here for quite a while. It has caused almost continuous war, millions of deaths, international chaos. And we're now going to be forced into a global deal that will destroy our democracy – the one we're supposed to run for.

Incidentally, the Irving interests have been global for a very long time. Doesn't that kind of take them out of the picture as good ol' local boys? Anyway, there are many who would date the global economy to 1492. So why don't you explain what you mean by a global economy? Exactly what does recognizing it mean?

Earlier in this gawdawful column, you refer to doctors who say we need more doctors as a special interest group. Damn right, They just want more doctors so they can have bigger parties. It's all for themselves. Same for teachers who say we need more teachers.

He provides a 'better' model for these people with the example of universities. They shouldn't say we need more money. They should say 'we must review our efficiency to save money.'

He doesn't suggest that big business should say, let us review our efficiency so we can refuse government hand-outs; let us take our money out of offshore banks, and pay tax on it. Let us see whether we really need to pay hundreds of thousands and even millions per year with special benefits in order to get good executives. (After all, its used to be possible to pay a lot less.)

Then he refers to people who agree with him as the 'silent majority'. If they're silent, how the hell does he know they're the majority? This is a term invented by a man Dr. Savoie would have liked, Spiro Agnew, a VP of the U.S.

He also says we need to make New Brunswick a business-friendly jurisdiction. Damn right. We've been so tough on the Irvings that I'm surprised they stay here. Mr. Irving! Mr Irving! Please spray on me. Let us bury our heads in sprayer.

Oh, and we in the social media are causing all the trouble. If only we would read Mr. Irving's newspapers and listen to the news on Irving's radio stations, we could clear all this up.

As a paper by a student in any university course, I would flunk this – and send a note to the registrar to find out why he got accepted in the first place. The information is often nonsense, and the logic is non-existent. This is so far the worst newspaper column I have ever seen that it makes Norbert look like an intellectual.

Either this is propaganda or Dr. Savoie is very, very stupid. And I wouldn't dream of calling a PhD stupid.

But I shudder to imagine what his classes must be like.

As for Pope Francis - I have to confess I don't like all the religiosity in his wording. But I'm astonished at his energy and activity, and his taking his religious beliefs into the real world as, I am sure, was the intention of the writers of The Bible. Note that he deals with environment, exploitation, international relations, poverty, refugees……. And that's just a part of what he does every day. I could wish more clergy, both Protestant and Catholic, did the same. Anything would be better than the “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam” drivel that we get from the Irving press Faith page.






The Guardian has photos of British slums of 1969-70. They are much worse than they may appear. Photos can't tell the dreadful dampness and mustiness, the lack of basic furniture. Nor can one get a sense of those back to back tenement buildings with their multi-storey walk ups. This was a time when the British wealthy, as now, were suffering no pain (though their greatest glory days were over). There are still scenes like this, even in Canada (I have lived in places like this in Montreal) and the US. And much worse among the homeless of Los Angeles.

Two of the photos are of The Gorbals in Glasgow. My grandmother lived there, in a building with over 50 tenants – and one toilet. The only fresh water came from a tap on the street, all the way down that long, stairwell.


Meanwhile, the King, God bless him, with his family of half-wits and mentally disturbed, lived in Buckingham Palace with their hundreds of servants, and a summer castle in Scotland. Of course, like all wealthy families, they had to work hard to get all that. I mean, you have to work on deciding who you should be born to.

I wonder – would the Irving press show us photos of the homes of the poor in this city?


The next photos are of refugees arriving at the Greek island of Lesbos. Few will have much chance to go anywhere else. There's nothing but tents for them to live in, and not many of those. They can't go back. And nobody wants them. But it's all for an important cause.

American oil billionaires want control of all middle east oil. And we have to encourage them because, after all, they're entrepreneurs, and their wealth will trickle down and make us all rich.

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Just to show again that The Guardian, like all papers, can produce some stinkers of opinion columns, there's the one below. It was written as though the whole crisis in the middle east was caused by the Russians. (Never mind that Russia had no choice but to get involved as the U.S. was making it clear it intended to take over the whole region.) Then it parades the old myth that Russia provoked the Ukraine crisis. In fact, it was provoked by U.S. planning and money, and the resulting government has robbed the people of Ukraine blind – as well as giving prominence to the Nazi party.

This is written as propaganda. The U.S. has done nothing wrong. But Putin is evil.


She backtracks a little at the end. But it's too little and too late.

The Russians, for now, have won the war in Syria. With the capture of Allepo, the American 'proxy' fighters - the 'rebels' and ISIS – have lost. This is the time for a peace settlement. But that's not going to happen. The US is not going to accept peace talks when it really has no cards to play.

We should be looking at a Syria, fairly soon, that will be a place refugees can return to, taking the pressure off a very dangerous situation in Europe.

Instead, it is quite possible the U.S. will send in a large army, ostensibly to fight ISIS, on the ground – in Syria and in the same part of Syria as the Russians. And that would be a neat recipe for World War Three.

Obama seems (very reasonably) to wish to avoid that. But those who want it are powerful


This next one is long, and a complex read. But it's important. The wealthy of the U.S. have been determined on control of the whole world for some 20 years now and, really, much longer than that. Now, China and Russia are reacting. I won't even guess where this could take us.


Compare the scholarship of this one to the pabulum offered by Dr. Savoie.

I had an error in yesterday's blog. I said that the U.S. had a jet waiting for Julian Assange in Sweden to fly him to the U.S. He would never have made it to a Swedish court.


The truth is that this happened in a similar situation in 2013, when the American jet was waiting in Denmark. We have no information on whether the U.S. has done the same thing again. It would seem likely. But there is no information.

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