Thursday, March 17, 2016

March 17: "I wish I loved the Human race;...

I wish I loved its silly face;
 I wish I liked the way it walks;
 I wish I liked the way it talks;
 And when I'm introduced to one,
 I wish I thought "What Jolly Fun!"

author   Sir Walter A Raleigh (1861-1922)
Below is an item I picked up from CBC news- yesterday. Today, the Irving press doesn't have it. The story is not really that David Suzuki has turned 80. The story is that he says environmentalism has failed.

That's kind of important. Perhaps the Irving press missed it because it broke too late. But it's not too late to phone Suzuki, get more details from him on how and why it failed, and whether it was sabotaged by people who wanted it to fail. Will the Irving press have thisi tomorrow. I doubt it very much.

Let's say that Suzuki is overstating the case. Let's say climate change is not going to destroy the whole world - just most of it. That still leaves us spending trillions of dollars fighting wars for the sole purpose of pumping more greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere. The cost of this is so great that even the wealthy US faces rising numbers of its people who are sleeping on sidewalks, suffering malnutrition; and dying earlier. Those factors alone have killed more Americans in the last 15 years than ISIS, Russia, and China, and Syria have.

Watch for this to come to Canada, too, now that Trudeau has given way to American pressure to join the war in Syria. Forget all the garbage talk about how we won't be killing anybody. Once you're into a war, you're into it wherever it takes you. What's going on in the middle east is an open-ended disaster. And we, as we did in Afghanistan, have committed ourselves to going wherever the disaster takes us.

And why has nobody noticed that we have not declared war on anybody? According to the Canadian constitution, parliament is supposed to declare war. Mind you, according to the American constitution,  Congress is supposed to declare war. But the U.S. has for years fought wars without mentioning it to congress. All drone attacks, for example, are acts of war. So are missions by special ops. So is the American intrusion in Syria.

And Canada is likely to be drawn into a larger war that means nothing to Canada and will be costly both in lives and money. And if we don't care about the lives, then think about the money. Warfare fundamentally changed in the 20th century. Before that, one could sentimentalize it all the way Rudyard Kipling did - brave young lads, patriots, heroes..all that stuff. Now, war is simply about mass killing. In particular, it's about killing men, women and children without distinction.

Partly that's because our weapons are now so powerful, they cannot be  limited in the damage they do. Ranges are far greater and explosive power is non-discriminating. We cannot control who we kill.

Nor do we want to. We learned in World War Two that killing civilians, regardless of age or gender, was a winning strategy. You don't have much need for the "thin, red line" or the regiment of heroes any more. What you need is the biggest bombs and the most advanced weapons to fire them. The cost of keeping up to date on that weaponry, made worse by corruption, is demonstrated by the trillion dollar cost of the Iraq war. And the destruction of that weaponry is demonstrated by an Iraq which suffered casualties unheard of for such a short war, and such a massive destruction that drinking  water, electricity and schools are nowhere close to recovering.

Sending Canadians to Syria, even if it's officially just to help little children cross the street, means massive spending to re-equip our military - now - because it will be too late when the situation gets out of hand. And our aircraft, to pick just one example, are close to being museum pieces.

That means, even at this point, we have to spend huge sums (much of it on corruption) for the military. And that means cutting back on social services, poverty, infrastructure....just as the U.S. is doing. That's a high price to pay just so Obama will smile at our prime minister.

Then there's a pretty  grim story about the shipbuilding industry in Canada. It seems the Canadian governments routinely give shipbuilding contracts on a cost plus basis rather than a fixed price.   That means ships routinely are completed at a cost well above the original estimate; but the contractor still gets his cost plus an agreed-on profit. And there is no competitive bidding. That's an open invitation to cost overrun and profiteering.

Norbert could read this with profit to learn that private business is not more efficient than government. In fact, it is often less efficient just in order to get higher profits.

And there's a disturbing note rather hidden in this story. It's based on an interview with the president of Canada's venerable and biggest shipbuilding company - Davies in Quebec. He was interviewed at his head office in - Monaco.

Gee. I wonder why a Canadian company would have its head office in Monaco.

I often check CBC News on google before reading the Irving paper. Invariably, of course, the CBC has far more news than a small-province paper. But, more telling - there is little overlap in the stories each chooses. The CBC stories are usually important. The Irving press ones usually aren't.
Section A news, as usual, has nothing in it.

The editorial is, to put it kindly, shallow. A very large apartment building may be going up in a residential (bungalow) district of neighbouring Dieppe. Will it raise or depress  housing prices in the district? Ah, yes. That's the burning question of the day.

There's a vague mention of city planning. It has to be vague because vague seems to be what all city plans in this region are about. What are the plans for housing design in an age when evergy fuels have to be considered? What are the plans for density in an age when greater density may be essential to maintain public transit? And, in such a case, what will be the means of transit? And what form should that density take?   Do we really want a city that looks like rows and rows of   egg cartons standing on end? Are there other ways to build apartments? (There are.)

But all the editor talks about is house values.

Norbert has a quite reasonable column about the future of the Moncton High School building. And it's also reasonable to suggest we wait until nearing city council elections over, and let the new council decide. But -
-in this tangled saga of what to do with an old building, the tangling was done by the old city council. What expectation can we have that the new council will be any better?

Justin Ryan is,  as always, a welcome relief with a very readable piece on coming to understand the cultural mix this city is becoming.

Rod Allen has a bizarre column about the collapse of Elephant Rock. His point appears to be it might be due to climate change. But you won't find that out  until you get over three-quarters of the way through the article. He offers this gem of thought in one sentence, then uses his last paragraph to say he really doesn't know anything about the subject.

Alec Bruce writes a  whole column telling us that election polls may not be reliable. Uh - I think that's been well known for some time.

And that's it for section A.
For several years now the Irving press has been pushing for the development of fracking in New Brunswick and the development of export facilities in St. John as the great hope for prosperity in New Brunswick. Today's headline in Canada&World is that it's no longer economically viable. But our provincial government is still pushing the idea as an investment in the future.
Let's seen, now. We know climate change is happening. The latest indications are that it is happening more quickly than expected. We know that continuing climate change will be disastrous. So, the provincial government wants to invest in a big project for selling more fossil fuels just in case they come back into style. "I wish I loved the human race..."

There's also a big, big story that Trudeau is working on a bid to get Canada elected to a seat on the UN Security Council. This might be very, very tough. There was a long period going back to 1950 when Canada could have such a seat just by asking for it. Those were the days when Canada was seen, with some good reason. as an honest broker. Since then, we've had Harper. Even worse, in a world of hardening alliances, Canada is now widely seen as a US puppet - and the U.S. is not a big friend-winner.

Foreign news in today's paper is two stories. Neither of them meaningful without context. And there is no context offered.
While the Irving press occasionally mentions the refugees in Moncton (mostly through Justin Ryan's excellent columns), we don't read much about the disasters that are shaping up in Europe. Refugees and their children and their babies are camping out in their thousands in sodden fields - without sanitation, without enough food, without enough medical care.

Among the disasters that are closing in is massive death from disease and exposure, rage and maybe violence at the treatment they are getting from most of Europe, and these have profound implications for Europe, itself - and, probably, for the world. And the U.S., which has spent uncounted trillions to kill, dislocate and starve millions of people so that its billionaires can control the oil supply, is doing close to nothing to help.

But, in fairness, the billionaires are going their bit to help at home. One, for example, recently had a yacht built for him (with the cheap labour of a third world country) for three and a half million dollars. I mean, right there you have an example of capitalism creating jobs.
Here is another item on Putin's motives in stepping back from the war in Syria. So far, it's the one I find most convincing. Partiularly telling is his thesis that what Europe fears most is a U.S. war with Russia, something the U.S. has been pushing for, would be the end of Europe.

Particularly interesting is the last paragraph which suggests the U.S. has not been able to put forward credible leaders for the coming election or for any election in the last twenty years. I would put it longer than that. But it's certainly obvious to the whole world that the current leadership debates are frightening for the low quality of political leadership they show.

We are watching the breakup of democracy. The U.S. has become an insane asylum which has been taken over by a group of the patients. It's a group of the patients who call themselves business leaders. This has been happening for many decades. But the pace picked up with the election of Ronald Reagan, and it's now rushing at very great speed.

The U.S. will not survive what is happening. The only question is whether the rest of us will.
For a change of pace, here's what could be a piece of good news on the Syria situation.
al Jazeera has an interesting section called "Investigations". It's a collection of investigations that have been carried out  by al Jazeera. One, for example, deals with informants who search out terrorists for the FBI. They commonly 'create' terrorists by setting up the feeble-minded to do something so that the FBI can arrest the 'terrorist' in the act - and before any damage is done. And it's not just in the U.S. that happens.
Again, it's proved impossible in just one day to cover more than a tiny number of the stories that don't make the Irving press. And to try to cover some of the ground that should be on their editorial and commentary pages.  I have never understood why those papers have so many people to do so little reporting about such unimportant matters.


  1. "The US will not survive what is happening." More than ever these days they appear desperate and out of control. Not a good combination for a Imperial Power. Their NATO sychophants including Canada may find out that they are supporting a crumbling Empire, an Empire that will in its demise also take them out. So much for being allies.

  2. Hello Graeme, I have been following you for some time now, I have never commented before, but I want you to know "YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE". You make us think, wonder, what the H#@! has happened to our world. And what can we possibly do, it is so complex, so deep in S!&^, there really is no way to dig it up, uncover all the corruption that is going on. I have been keeping track of gov't waste of our tax dollars and it has me counting the days, not years anymore, when I will be happy to leave this world. So thank you, for your voice, I hear you!

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