Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Feb. 1: A normal day for the Irving press


There is no particular need to waste time on Section A news. There are issues worth research and reporting in Moncton. But they aren't in this paper. Among those issues....

1. Most of the world now accepts it as fact that that climate change is on us. Has the city of Moncton given any thought to that at all? One of our great contributions of CO2 is  our heavy reliance on the automobile in this city and on the most inefficient public transit system I have ever seen.

Why do we have such big busses when they're usually either parked and/or empty? Have we ever considered what this means for the future of housing in Moncton? This is one, sprawling city - and this can't go on. But it does. We moved Moncton High largely to meet the the interests of a land developer who was building a new, 1950s suburban style development. Get real, city council. The 1950s are over. We need some serious thinking about future development.
( We could have fixed the old school, anyway. In fact, now it's suddenly quite fixable after we were told how impossible it was to fix it.)

So - how does this city plan to deal with its greenhouse gas emissions? How does it plan to get away from a city plan that make the use of cars almost essential? Has any thought been given, for example, to study traffic patterns to see where cars are coming from every morning and going back to every evening? Has city council thought of large parking areas located around the city which would be connected to work areas in the city by bus? And possibly by smaller busses?
Downtown parts of the city are full of decaying buildings which will not last much longer. Time to think of more capacious commercial/residential buildings there. This has long been done, and with great success in cities like Hong Kong where there are buildings you can live in, and do your shopping in. This could be the answer to the problem of reviving downtown, and bringing it more human traffic.

Has there been any thought of the electrification of public transit? it's been done all over the world for over a hundred years. And Main Street will never be revived so long we we depend on cars of any sort.

2. Why is this city (and province) ignoring the problems created by the rapid growth in the availability of guns designed to appeal to the immature and unbalanced among us. I'm referring here to the many guns designed to look military, and even ones fit only for military use? Offshoots of the American National Rifle Association are popping up in Canada, and we are looking at a future of the same kind of gun fanaticism that is the major killer  (far in excess of "terrorists") of Americans.
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The editorial gave away its narrow view of just about everything in its headline about recent stage performances at the Capitol Theatre of "The Sound of Music". (Beautiful presentation: admirably tight budget). In the view of this editorial writer, everything comes down to making money.

Of course, most theatre is designed just for making money. Justin Bieber springs to mind. It's pure entertainment. But theatre (like film and books) can do more than that. Its greater value to a society is that it can stimulate thought, discussion. And it provides a broader appreciation of the arts - such as instrumental music. All of this is something normally lacking in Moncton.

But, to the editorial writer, the key point is that it raised its own budget, made a profit, and drew many people to the local restaurants before and after the show.

Norbert's column is a reasonable one.

Alan Cochrane's 'commentary' is that it's been a mild winter. (Who wouda guessed?) But maybe we'll get a tough March. Who knows? Food for thought, Alan. Food for thought.

The guest commentary is on how the Ontario budget harms younger people. Why, of all the commentaries across the world, would the editors choose that one? It actually makes some points worth considering for all of us. But not many people are going to plow through a commentary that seems to have nothing to do with them.

Alec Bruce has a good column about the rising cost of food, and how he's going to grow some at his home. Good idea. This might stimulate the city to think about community gardens on a serious scale, and about flat-roofed apartments with greenhouses on them.
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You can't get much in just the four pages allotted for 'Canada and World' news. And the Irving press doesn't even try. Most of what's there can be found more easily on TV. There's a full page on the US leadership races. But, like the political races, it's more about personality and image than about the issues that have to be dealt with. And,even at that, it's pretty shallow stuff.

The one, important story to read is on B3. It's about climate change, and what that is likely to mean by 2050. It will include a massive spread of deserts, and that will send more, many more refugees looking to a place with lots of water and land - like Canada.

Of course, as our oil industry leaders tell us, there is no climate change, and scientists don't know what they're talking about. And that's very reassuring because I've read in the Irving press that our oil industry leaders really love New Brunswick and Canada, and have made themselves billionaires here just so they can help us.

The United States, simmering in fears and hatreds, and already running of of water and usable land, certainly won't accept those refugees. Indeed, though the story doesn't say so, large numbers of Americans may come knocking for our land and our water. In fact, they are already making noises about Canadian water to a degree that threatens our supply.

And the record shows that what the U.S. wants, it takes. Remember - there are no such things as friends between nations.
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Yesterday, I mentioned the skewed vision of history we get from schools and film and news media. You have to be careful because HIstory is not about 'facts'. You're never quite sure about your conclusions  - and it's a huge mistake to use history to make predictions about the future. History is about thinking; and the thinking, I'm afraid, is done by all us people who are filled with likes, dislikes, prejudices, illusions. History doesn't give us answers. It gives us factors to think about - and, if it's good history, it teaches us something about how to think.
I've just read a book of bad history. It's by Pat Buchanan, a major figure among American right-wingers. The book is 'Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War.'

Mr. Buchanan, though knowledgeable is not trained as an historian. He treats guesses as though they were historical fact. He is so politically conservative as to be considered extreme even among extreme conseratives. And, oh, it shows in the guesses he makes and the conclusions he draws. But -

- some of this book is bang on. He says that World Wars One and Two were essentially economic. I think most historians would agree with that. And perhaps more - that Korea, Vietnam, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Grenada and others were wars fought to benefit the wealthy. Whatever motives our soldiers, sailors and airman may have had to risk their lives, we don't go to war to 'fight evil' or 'spread democrracy'. We normally go to war to make the rich richer. We give the lives. The wealthy get the loot.

He's probably also right to say that Churchill was a much over-estimated man. He did NOT save Britain. By 1940, Britain had lost. He seems to have loved war, and have thought himself a great, military leader. But all the evidence points the other way. In fact, he was the typical younger son of an aristocratic family, born to believe he was superior to other people, and had a right to lead. (How different, how very different from our own upper class.)

Hitler, despite all the propaganda we heard, was not looking for world conquest.
And both wars were unnecessary. And the only beneficiaries of the wars were (and are) the very rich.  This could have been a good book. But it's stuffed with Buchanan's bigoted opinions and his guesses.

And we look at those wars with our own (often bigoted) opinions.  And we look at the middle east in that way.

Our news media  have made Muslims evil. And that's how we see these wars. And that's why we call the other side 'terrorists'.

What have these 'terrorists' done that the U.S. did not do in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki". In carpet bombing cities in Laos and Cambodia? In bombing, using napalm, and Agent Orange in Vietnam? In bombing Libya (with Canadian help)? In the mass murders in Guatemala? In the killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan? In supplying cluster bombs to murder for years to come in Yemen?
The west created brutal  Royal families, like that of Saudi Arabia. It installed murdering dictators as in Iran (destroying a democracy to do it.) It has supported dictators in Egypt and, with Erdogan, a dictator in all but title in Turkey.
In fact, the western powers in general have been killing and looting middle east Muslims for over a century. They have drawn lines to create countries they are each allowed to loot. And, through much of that time, Arabic Muslims were romanticized and idealized in the west. Rudoph Valentino had the women swooning in movie theaters. A popular song was "I'm the sheik of Araby..."  A good-looking and well dressed boy was once referred to as a sheik. And there's a reason why a popular brand of condom is called 'Sheik'.

All that came crashing down when Arabic Muslims began shooting back some fifty years ago. Then, in news media and film and TV, they became increasinly evil and treacherous. Not at all like our Christian and saintly countries.
Nobody terrorizes countries like the United States does - or Britain, France, Italy... But none of our news media ever called those countries terrorists even though we all, like Canada, were born out of terrorism. And now, our government has committed Canada to sharing in the terrorism.

All that torture and starving and killing and looting was done to benefit the people we call capitalists (who are actually not capitalists at all). Sixty thousand Americans died in Vietnam. For what? Was Vietnam threatening to attack the U.S.? Was Libya a threat? No. But both had a value to those Americans who labelled their own greed as capitalism.

We forget all the terrible things we have done. We see only the terrible things the other side is responding with. We are well into the 1930s again. And fascism, it's evil ignored because we look only for the evil on the other side, is going to win the U.S. election. Sanders is not going to win. It looks like Trump (probably) and Clinton. Both are fascists in the fullest meaning of that word. Both parties stand for the same things because both are owned.

They are the only people who can win because only they have the big  money that capitalism can provide. They are running on that money, on platforms of fear, bigotry, ignorance, racism. And these are exactly what brought Hitler to power.

Canada  has to make a choice. But I've seen no sign of any understanding of that. And I shall not see that understanding in the pages of the Irving press.
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Well, that rambled on more than I thought it would, and has used up much of my day. So, look,--

Today's Information Clearing House is the best I have ever seen. So just google information clearing house, and read all of it. I was particularly interested in what it had to say about Ukraine, France in Libya, the warning by the head of the CIA that it might not obey the order of a President Trump, redoing the map of the middle east, and why Donald Trump is winning.
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This one is an important one from The Guardian. (Okay, I have a prejudice. I believe that capitalism has become a destructive force, destroying even itself,  because of greed and lack of control.) There's a lot going on in the U.S. that we need to know more about. Especially as it might help to wake us up.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/29/why-are-there-suddenly-millions-of-socialists-in-america
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Europe is cracking, morally and politically, over the refugee situation. And we are yet to see the really big refugee migration that's coming as a result of war, and then of climate change. Western catering to its greediest people is almost certainly setting us up for violence - and very soon.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/01/the-guardian-view-on-the-refugee-crisis-little-time-left-to-find-a-solution
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Whatever American governments might think, the American people have become increasingly angry at Israeli treatment of Palestinians. In fact, that anger is felt by an increasing number of American Jews. (But, interestingly, not by wealthy American Jews.)

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/02/bds-boycott-israel-movement-gains-support-160228123009723.html
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This story, I guess, didn't meet the high standards of the Irving press. But It's an important one for the western world, and maybe for the whole world. I won't even attempt a forecast of the consequences of this. But it's a very dangerous sign in an already unstable world.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/03/crisis-looms-wave-refugees-reaches-europe-160301185424809.html
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Like us, people of other nations have been lied to about their past. Chinese children, like ours, are taught to skip over the awkward parts of history. Here's an example from China.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/02/china-cultural-revolution-confronted-mao-zedong-160224101340248.html
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