Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Feb. 9: Let's start happy

The best column I have seen in a long time in the Irving press is on today's C4. It's by Jana Giles, a grade 12 student at Moncton High. Read it, Norbert. Read it and learn.

It deals with an increasing problem that our schools have to deal with - mental illness. She suggests this is perhaps a product of the intensity of constant and instant contact that our young people have to live in. She's not an expert on cause or cure; and she doesn't pretend to be. But she draws attention to the probem, and suggests that it may have something to do with this electronic world. And I suspect she's right.

Schools have always been demanding of teachers. When I was teaching elementary school, I had two boys in my class who were obviously heading for trouble. Nor did the school board have money for the specialists that were needed. Whatever their problems were, I had no ability to help them. By the time they were seventeen, both had been killed in gunfights with police. (The sister of one, a girl I also taught), became the secretary - mistress - of one of Montreal's biggest mobster bosses.)

And every class I ever taught, from grade 7 to university, had students with serious social and personality problems that called for special skills which I often didn't have.

Education is a complex and difficult business. Education also defines the future of all of  us. Now, Norbert, can you understand why classes should be smaller? Can you understand why schools require support staff?

No. I didn't think you would.

By the way, in Britain, the prestige private schools (that the British call public schools), the ones like Eton and Harrow, actually score lower than the real public schools. So much for the wonders of privatization. But it doesn't really matter. Just going to one of the private schools gets you into a higher social class and a better job.

Prince Charles was a very poor student, not really capable even of  high school. His brother  was even worse. One of his teachers told me he was, maybe, grade nine - tops. But both live in mansions with servants by the hundred.
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The front page headline tells us that NB Liquor 'pads' its profits by pushing pricier brands. The wording of the headline makes it sound criminal to do that. But surely all stores like to sell their pricier goods. I really don't see the problem. Nor do I understand why this is the big news of today.

Beside it is the story of Rona Ambrose's visit to Altantic Canada. (She's the interim leader of the federal Conservative party, and is slightly to the right of Stephen Harper.) Her Moncton news conference, as we are told at the end of the story, was to attack Trudeau's decision to pull back our bombers from Syria. But read the whole story on the conference, and you will not find a word about our bombers or Trudeau or Syria. And the rest of what she said could have been told in one sentence. She wants to get the Atlantic vote back.

So here's the scoop on Rona and the Syrian stuff that the news conference was about. Rona is our Donald Trump. In her view, it is digusting and shameful that Canadians will not be in Syria to kill people. Killing and starving a shattered people in a war that is wrong in the first place and has nothing to do with us in the second place seems to be a point of honour with her. There ain't nearly enough dead people in the middle east to please Rona. If you want to win Rona's heart, kill a few kids.

Oh, she also raves that we are fighting the worst terrorist movement in history. No, we aren't, Rona.  All wars are terrorist movements on both sides. The purpose is to win, and you win with terror. That why the allies bombed Berlin and Cologne, and the Germans bombed London. That's why the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Japan.

The biggest terrorist force in the world day is largely Christian. It is the U.S. with its  massive bombings of Cambodia, Vietnan, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen. its drones, its special ops. It has killed so many millions, and killed them regardless of age or gender and has quite deliberately bombed to create terror, that ISIS is nowhere close. But the Rona Ambroses of this world are incapable of seeing their own evil.

The rest of section A is mindless crap.
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The editorial is a predictable pitch for more privatization of the health sector. Kiss, kiss, Mr. Irving.

Norbert is still living the 1920s and early 1930s with professor Saillant and his depression era economics. Yep, just give more money to the Irvings, take more from everybody else, and prosperity will pour down on us. Just like Congo and Guatemala and all those other happy places.

He also has an attack on education as being poorly performing. He never has any data to back that. In fact, Canadian education ranks sixth in the whole world. (The United states is seventeenth. The best is South Korea.) And even if New Brunswick were the worst in Canada, it would still be way ahead of the U.S.
The best in the world are South Korea, Hong Kong, Israel and China. However, Norbert, there's something else to explain that. Most Asians and Jews have strong cultural views on the importance of education. Their children do better in school not necessarily because of good teaching. (I saw nothing impressive in teaching methods in Hong Kong or when I met, as I often did in Montreal, with Jewish teachers and classes. They do better better because they live in societies that place importance on education. New Brunswick doesn't. It would be truer to say New Brunswick society places a stigma on intelligence and intellectual activity. It encourages people to know nothing and to keep their mouths shut and to say only what the boss wants to  hear.

Ignorance and torpidity is the whole mission of the Irving press. And it is no accident that it always has praise for the words of people like Savoie and Saillant. And it is no accident that there is never any mention of how the wealthy should help with our costs.

In my early days in this province, I was astonished at the vitriol and hatred and ignorance the editorials showed toward education. Then, as I saw Norbert's early columns, I realized he had been the editorial writer. I don't know whether he's still mad at teachers for the days he got sent home for wetting his pants or whether he has devoted his career to kissing ass. But these columns are quite dreadful.

The other commentaries are better though, as always, obsessively local. Alec Bruce is the exception. He makes the point that we cannot make the Senate de-politicize itself. We have to can it. I agree.

I 've met and known many senators. I've appeared before senate committees. Almost all are party hacks, and you can't make anything else out of them. They also tend to be remarkably unintelligent, much worse than mps.  Most are in the category of people who say, "I vote Liberal because everybody in my family has always voted Liberal." That is, they aren't politicized in the sense of any set of principles. The label (without any sense of what it means) is simply  built into them.  And many of them, like Senator Frum, are dangerous ideologues.

There are just four pages of Canada and World news.  Of the four pages, almost a whole page is taken up with the Gomeshi trial. This is stuff for a scandalmag.  Again, there is no mention of Yemen where millions are being deliberately starved to death by Saudi Arabia with U.S. help.

Angela Merkel is quoted on B4 as being horrified by the Russian bombing of Syria. I've read this now in many stories. Where was she when the U.S. was bombing Iraq and killing civilians in many hundreds of thousands? Where was she during the American carpet bombing of Laos and Cambodia? Is she horrified by the bombing and mass starvation of civilians in Yemen? And if she were, would our papers report it?

But the paper got one thing right. The lead story in Canada & World is a real lead story. The traditional leadership of the Maliseet people has said they never ceded their lands in New Brunswick. And they will never, under any circumstances. allow an oil pipeline to cross them.

That should have been the big story on A1. And the Maliseet deserve our support.
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The Irving press missed Rona Ambrose's ranting. The CBC didn't.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/rona-ambrose-isis-trudeau-1.3439016
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The Guardian reports that after a slow start in January, U.S. police have picked up on their score of kills. They are now slightly ahead of last year's pace with 92 as of yesterday. This is a story that deserves a lot more attention. I'm sure important reasons are the increasingly military training of U.S. police, the intense racism of the U.S. But we should also be looking at the almost universal ownership of weapons, the frustration at the failure of American governments to deal with American social problems, and the resulting fear and trigger-happiness that all of these generate in both police and the general public.
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Then there's a story about the melting of Arctic ice that has made it into many newspapers, professional journals, and magazines. But not into the intellectual morgue that is the Irving press. Here is one of the less alarming versions of it. It doesn't mention why the Arctic ice is melting. But I guess we all know why.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/melting-ice-could-cause-gravity-shift-1685201.html
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And sometimes there are stories that require men to summon up all their strength to read them. Women, though, may find them amusing.

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/science/1.702087
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Then there's the story that Russia may have shot itself in the foot as its capitalists may be becoming as destructive to Russia as U.S. capitalists are to the U.S. (attention Irving press staff. Do not read this. It criticizes privatization.)

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44159.htm
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Government figures on employment and unemployment are usually lies. Any journalist knows or should know that. I've worked with people who draw up the figures. And they readily admit they're false. It all depends on how you count employment. After a certain period with finding a job, a person is no long counted as unemployed - though he is still unemployed. Or, the figures may not indicate dramatic drops in salaries. Here's a good article on  the subject by two people who know their stuff.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44154.htm
_________________________________________________________________Then there's this yeah, but who cares about the law story. British special ops troops took casualties as they were operating in northern Syria.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3434765/Three-British-troops-injured-covert-operation-Iraq--Mirror.html

Note - The British were committing a war cime as well as a constitutional one. It is against international law for Britain to have troops in Syria at all. That makes it a war crime for them.

It is against British law for troops to go to war without the approval of parliament.

But who cares about the law?
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There's lots of other stuff - with the U.S. moving in troops near Russian borders, and the distinct possibility of a clash in Syria with the Russians. And it's the U.S. that has set up both of these. I really wonder just how much Obama is really in control of all this. The U.S. bureaucracy is so huge, so stacked with adventurers , especially in the CIA and homeland security. and all of it so dominated by the very wealthy that one has to wonder whether a president even knows what is going on.

There's no doubt that Obama's been a dreadful failure, and has followed exactly the same policies as Bush. But, in fairness, Bush was never in control in his two terms. And, probably, Obama hasn't been in control, either.

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