Wednesday, March 16, 2016

March 16: Not a good day for the Irving press.

There is no news in Section A.

The editorial is about the old Moncton High which was too expensive to repair--- so we built a new one---  but now we've discovered the old one can be repaired--- so we can put the library in it--- but the library doesn't want to go there----- so we can sell it as an office/warehouse in a residential district--- or maybe we can make it something else that's been suggested---- but we don't know what it is.

Ever get the feeling that there's something fishy about this? Of course, I can't imagine the original closing of the school and building of a new one had anything to do with a land developer who wanted a high school to help sell his houses.

Norbert Cunningham and Alec Bruce write columns on the same topic - the decline of the NB economy. Both agree that it's bad. Neither knows why or what to do. And neither mentions the role of the man who owns most of the province.
 Brian Cormier has yet another little story from life. I have no idea what the point of it is.

The only commentary that is a commentry and worth reading is by Geoff Martin of Mount A. It's about how cutting government services so that we have to pay private companies more is a ridiculous idea. Privatization is more expensive that public ownership. So we don't save money. In fact, we have to pay more. (Read this one, Norbert. Read and think.)

The Canada&World section has its usual, miserable offering. The front page has a story from the Fraser Institute that opposes a carbon tax. It's a story pleading that a carbon tax on energy would create hardship for the "little people". Yeah. The Fraser Institute has always been concerned about the little people.
Worse, the paper calls The Fraser Insitute a 'right-leaning' think tank. So don't worry about it. You know, it's just right-leaning.  Sounds harmless. When will our news media tell us the truth?

 The Fraser is NOT just right-leaning. It is a propaganda house financed by corporate wealth to lie to us in order to make the rich richer. To say that the Fraser is 'right leaning' is like saying that a drunk who collapses on his right side in the gutter is 'right leaning'.

Perhaps the Irving press could do some research to find out who pays for The Fraser Institute. Is it the same people who pay for the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies? Ask Mr. Irving. He might know.

There are only two stories worth reading. B6 has another suggestion of why Putin is reducing his involvement in Syria. It's a message to Assad that he has to get more serious in the peace negotiations. This one, too, is plausible. And it suggests that Putin is more serious in looking for peace than the US and its allies are.

But the big one is on B5. It's a report on Yemen. At last. After all these weeks, the Irving press has noticed Yemen. Saudi warplanes bombed a market, killing or wounding well over a hundred civilians. But the story does not mention a factor that takes this beyond the 'tut-tut' category.

One of the major purposes of World War Two, we were told, was to put an end to the slaughter of civilians that had characterizied world wars 1 and 2. This, we were told, is why Canadians died. It was not just to win a war. It was reduce the monstrous brutality of war. To that end, the nations signed the Geneva Convention of 1949. ( for copies and outlines of the convention, google Geneva Convention 1949).

World War 1 was different from earlier ones in the number of civilians killed.   But World War 2, the killing of civilians had become the major purpose of all sides. So had the killinig of the wounded, and of prisoners, the indiscriminate bombing of hospitals. This was a horror that had to be stopped.

 We (including the U.S. and Canada) signed that agreement.

It is against the convention to bomb a place (like a market) where victims are likely to be civilians. It is illegal to use cluster bombs, like the those the U.S. supplies to Saudi Arabia. It is illegal to deliberately starve civilians in,  say, Yemen. It is illegal to bomb hospitals - as Saudi Arabia is doing.

To do any of these things is to commit a war crime punishable by death.

The U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria have all been war crimes. The invasion of Haiti and expulsion of its president  (with Canadian help) was a war crime. Hillary Clinton is a war criminal.  So is Obama. So was Bush. And, I might add that the sending of Canadian troops to Syria, for whatever purpose, is a war crime under the Geneva Convention.

That whole American policy called 'American Exceptionalism' is a war crime.
On the day war ended, I was sent home from school for being late three days in a row. So I went downtown to join the delirious crowds that were celebrating the end of the war. It was a wild jubilation with posters everywhere.  I saw a soldier of the Black Watch leaning against a bank. He had only one leg. Then, as I walked toward him, I noticed yet another poster, one I had not seen   before.  It said,

"We've won the war
Now we've got to win the peace."

I was puzzled. Surely, it we had won the war, we must have won the peace. But I soon enough learned we had not won the peace. And the U.S., commonly with Canadian support, was a leader in breaking the peace.

The Legion goes into hysteria on any criticism of our war effort. Every year, it reminds us solemnly of what our soldiers, sailors and airmen died for. But I've never heard the words 'Geneva Convention' at the Nov. 11 ceremonies.

They, like us, were told at the time this was what they were giving their lives for. So when will The Legion come out to demand that we live up to what they died for? When will it attack 'American Exceptionalism' and Canadian participation in it? When will they say that World War Two was a war for everyone, not just to make billionaires richer?
The Guardian editorial takes a somewhat different view from most of the papers I've read on Putin's easing Russia's presence in Syria. While I find the commentaries of The Guardian quite interesting, its editorials often seem to be just literate versions of those that appear in the Irving press. There seems to be a decided bias in them.
I usually avoid Trump because I find him   disgusting.      This article still caught my eye - though I'm not sure that Trump is the real problem. I think the real problem is the American people, as they have been shaped by centuries of false history. visions of divine guidance, and shaped by the propaganda of the billionaires that has shaped them into what they are.
And here's yet another explanation of the Russian    pull-out from Iraq. This source is a pretty good one of analysis - and even it says that it's too early to draw conclusions about the meaning of all this.

It does mention, but only briefly, a great problem that could be looming. Can the U.S. afford to fight ISIS? Remember, it is the U.S. that largely created and supplied ISIS to Syria. And ISIS is also heavily supported by U.S.   allies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia who may opt to continue their support.

But surely the U.S with population, wealth and the largest military budget and the largest air force and navy in the world would easily handle ISIS?  Maybe. But that's not what the last fifty years or so of history tell us. Despite stories of the fighting ability of the U.S. army (especially in movies), it has a dismal record. It can beat up on small, poverty-stricken countries in Latin America and on a small tourist haven the size of Moncton ("America walks tall again," said President Reagan.) But the reality is that it has lost almost every war of the last fifty years, even against relatively small and poor countries like North Vietnam and Afghanistan - the latter costing over a trillion dollars for a war the U.S. seems incapable of winning. Libya was really a loss.

And where it does win, as in Iraq, it's not the army that does the trick. It's been massive bombing power (in violation of the Geneva Convention.) That's what happened in Iraq. The result is a country that is still without adequate services in crucial areas like energy, education, hospitals. The US soldiers seem incapable of winning. Any win the US has had has been done with massive technology, particularly bombing.

Frankly, recent performances of the U.S. army have not been impressive. It's surely time for our news media to notice that.  It is possible, even probable, that Syria will turn into another Afghanistan with the major result being to draw even more support for ISIS from a Muslim world that has had quite enough of American bullying.

The US, by its own admission, is out to conquer the world. It hasn't been able to conquer even a relatively tiny and poor Afghanistan.
It was only recently I was reading in the Irving press that fracking for shale gas has been proven to be absolutely safe. This will be good news to shale gas workers in North Dakota who have the highest worker fatality rates in the U.S.
Then there is this sample of racism in Europe. It comes from The Netherlands which one rarely thinks of as racist. So it came as a shock to me to encounter it during a term when I was visiting professor in that otherwise charming country.
During the war, Dutch citizens fully cooperated with the Naziis in tipping them off on where Jews were hiding. Those Jews who survived to return to their homes were presented with property tax bills for the years they had been in prison camps.  Many couldn't pay, of course, and lost their homes.

There were lots of eager Naziis all over Europe who served in the Waffen SS. They were from Spain, France, Sweden, Ireland, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine - almost any country you can  name - and the Netherlands. They fought beside the Germany army. And they numbered over 4,000,000. And The Netherlands was a prominent supplier of Waffen SS fighters.

Racism runs deep in Europe (as it does in the U.S. and Canada, though less in Canada than the U.S.)

What we like to call the refugee crisis is more properly a racist crisis. It's good to see Canada handling it with some decency. Europe and the U.S. are not. That means the problem is not refugees. The problem is the racism of the western world.
From Haaretz, here's a useful, quick guide to what the Trans-Pacific Trade partnership is about - from the points of view of those for and of those against it. It's not as full as it should be. But it's more than you'll ever see in the Irving press. (Actually, I did get this from Haaretz, but Haaretz must have got it from al jazeera.)

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