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?


  1. Is anyone with a job of any kind in New Brunswick permitted to criticize Irving? Blackballing is easy to accomplish, making employment at a new job extremely difficult to obtain, as many have discovered. And such blackballing extends well beyond mere provincial borders, rather like credit scores. The infamous background check of a person and their resume.

    If criticism is not tolerated by some entity, then one has found out who has power over one's thoughts and actions, and hence livelihood.

    Surely the people who run and write for the Irving Press are intimately familiar with the deal they have struck to earn a crust. And fear of losing that produces the complete sclock you comment on each day. Growing a spine is therefore tantamount to destitution.

    Such is the effect of pure malice on any viewpoint other than the one prescribed one those who pull the strings. Thus to live we eat our innermost thoughts and feelings.

    On a national scale, the complete lack of public supervision over CSIS and CSE, and the soft questions lobbed at them and the RCMP by parliamentarians at a hearing yesterday, reflect similar fear. It is therefore likely that any revolution to disrupt these power bases can only come from senior retired citizens who can independently support themselves. To ask the young to commit financial suicide in this era of surveillance is the reason, I believe, that a revolution is virtually impossible.

    And the old such as myself are too infirm to do much beyond carping and complaining. The young as a whole societally act as if they simply disregard the straitjacket they find themselves in, and indulge in more pleasant thoughts. You can say it's giving up, but there appears to be no practical way of freeing the bonds, when the mere act of attempting to organize is under constant monitoring by the state or elite.

    We are fucked and beholden.

  2. PEI is even worse - and for the same reason. Both have a small and scattered population. So, if one is in any way different in views of any sort, that person can easily be tracked down and isolated. This was the practice in the lumber days when one person controlled all the jobs in each region. That person commonly ran for political office. Voters in that time had to step up to the voting official, and vote by announcing his choice in a loud, clear voice.

    And anybody in any part of the province who voted the wrong way would never get a job again.

    A similar situation exists in small communities, like villages. You conform, or you are isolated. I think this is why New Brunswick has so little open discussion of public affairs. It's easier, if there is a discussion, to parrot the views of those with power. And even that is risky. So everybody tries very hard to look and think and act like everybody else.
    It may be that we need big cities to generate more freedom of thought and opinion. Most of my life was spent in Montreal where I was almost twenty years as a very public opponent of separatism. And when I spoke to public groups or on air as I did every day, I was expected to be controversial. I've seen no sign of any such attitude in New Brunswick. Just about everybody tries to look and act like everybody else.

  3. I came only to read today's blog and share an article exposing influence peddlers. However, upon reading the two comments above, I felt the need to add to your thoughts; As with the French Revolution, it will take a starving population to turn on what most (erroneously) consider to be the hand that feeds them. Unfortunately, those times are not so far into the future. Bob Dylan comes to mind 'When will they ever learn?'
    Oh, and the aforementioned article is here:

  4. My apologies to Pete Seeger fans. A momentary (I hope) lapse, crossing wires with Blowin' In The Wind & Where Have All The Flowers Gone?