Monday, March 21, 2016

March 21: Texas mother puts child in oven.

Two days ago, the CBC carried a story of some importance to Canada - and the world. Naturally, the Irving press has not picked it up.

The U.S. government is giving permission to oil companies to drill for oil off the north coast of  Alaska -  in waters that Canada has long claimed. Trudeau will let them do it, of course, just as we allow them the treat the Northwest Passage as American, though it has historically been Canadian.

All this kerfuffle goes back to the days when the U.S. bought Alaska from Russia. The land had never been surveyed; reliable maps didn't exist; and a military President Theodore Roosevelt was determined to take all he could. He even threatened to invade Canada in 1903 over a disagreement about the boundary line.

Canada was determined. Britain was not. It thought it a good idea for colonies to fight British wars - as in South Africa. But it had no intention of returning the favour. So it brokered a deal that gave the US the long strip of Pacific coast called the Alaska panhandle.

Eleven years later, though, it called Canada to fight a British war. But Britain remained determined not to fight for Canada again. That's why our independence was extended in the  1920s and  30s. However, as we would learn, Britain was still determined that Canada should fight for Britain - whenever that was convenient for Britain.

 But there's also another warning in this oil-drilling invasion.

We are seeing a flurry of oil exploration, and of pipeline ambitions. All of these require heavy investments that take years, even decades, to recover. And there is only one conclusion to be drawn from that.

The oil industry doesn't give a damn about climate change and the effect it will have on us   (and, yes, even on the mightiest among us.) And that means for all the smiles and handshakes on TV of Obama and Trudeau, we are not going to see any lively response to the challenge.

Big oil has been opposed from the start to taking any serious action. In fact, it has spent a great deal of its big money on denying that climate change is happening. That's why the Irving press has been so late and so tippy-toed in its comment on climate change.

I don't know whether big oil is insanely greedy or just stupid. But it doesn't matter which it is. Climate change is happening. That why the Arctic is warming, and warming several times faster than we thought.

Norbert, of course, will blame big government for whatever happens. The reality is we don't have big government. The only big we have in most of the western world is big business. After all, if we had big government,  we'd be able to collect taxes from big oil. The west is governed far more by big business than it is by big government - and I suspect that is largely true all over the world.

If we ever want get loose of this stranglehold of greed and irresponsibility and arrogance, we have to break the power of big money by getting back control of our governments. We're past the point at which fiddling with social programmes or discovering new taxes is of any use. Either we control our lives - or big money does.
The Irving press doesn't have this story - or any other, really. But if you like scandal mags, you''ll love the story on B4, "Texas mother accused of putting baby in oven".

The only story worth reading at all (but not much) is on Obama's visit to Cuba. The story has big holes in it, and could give a false impression of what this is all about. It's a good example of why news requires commentary. The story itself commonly gives a false impression. We need commentary to give the story context and to fill in the blanks.

This story is a  pretty bland account - and misleading. It has a paragraph about how the U.S. is concerned about human rights in Cuba, for example. This is a US where the president can and does imprison people or even execute them without charge of trial. This is a U.S. which is probably the greatest torturer in history. This is a U.S. with the biggest spy network in history that spies on everybody.
It's concerned about human rights? It's the only country in the world to give itself the right to break every international law and agreement in the book. They call it "American Exceptionalism". This is the country that uses special ops to murder people all over the world, and uses drones in the same way. This is the country that is helping Saudi Arabia to kill by bombs and starvation the people - men, women, and chldren - of Yemen.

This is the country that overthrew the elected government of Iran to install a murderous dictator. This is the country that has maintained dictatorships all over South America for over a century. One of them was the murderous Fulgencio Batista. His job, for his American masters, was to keep labour cheap, to keep Cubans in poverty, to give them virtually no social services, not even education.
 After all, there was a reason why Cubans joined Castro to overthrow this man.
The U.S. was hostile from the start because, the news story tells us, it feared Castro would spread communism throughout the U.S. But Castro didn't start as a communist. The truth is that Castro first approached the US for help in modernizing Cuba. And the U.S. refused. In fact, it sponsored an invasion of Cuba. Then it tried to impoverish Cuba by cutting off all its trade with just about everybody. It also blew up a Cuban civilian passenger jet, killing all aboard, laid bombs in Cuban hotels, and tried many times to murder Castro.

Anyway, it's no business of the U.S. what government any other country chooses.
What the U.S. really feared was that other South American countries would rise against their American-imposed dictators, and do terrible things like raising wages or providing schools.

Castro, for the first time, established a  Cuban public education system that offered free education from grade school to university. It produced so many doctors that they became a major presence in Latin America and Africa. He also established a medicare programme that dramatically raised the health of Cuba above American levels.

But what has happened  is that the U.S. (illegal) trade sanctions have kept Cuba poor.  What wealth there is has been far better distributed; but those trade sanctions have done their damage after half a century. Cuba can  now expect itself to be under pressure to back away from its 'unAmerican' policies on education and health.

You won't see any of this in the story. That's why we need commentaries on foreign news. Of course, if the Irving press were to hire such commentators, they'd get the castoffs who had proven too reactionary and racist for even The Post or The Mirror.
The editorial is unspeakably trivial. All the commentaries are decent enough. But none of them takes us much past our own bellybuttons.
Just for balance, here's a commentary on Cuba and the U.S. that I don't agree with at all. I particularly disagree with. I am especially puzzled by the reference to some "...distinction  between capitalist economy and one-party socialist politics..." I can't even understand what that means. A capitalist economy does not need to operate on democratic politics, and usually it doesn't. The two parties in the U.S. are essentially the same. As well, there are capitalist dictatorships all over the world that have no pretence of democracy at all. And there is no reason why socialism requires only one-party politics.
Here's an interesting one comparing Sanders and Clinton. Sanders, it says, represents the politics of principle.  Clinton represents the politics of the practical. The only problem is that the commentary misuses the word practical.
First - principle. My own feeling is that this is where politics should start. We should start from a position of moral principal that seeks out human needs, and proposes ways to meet them.

Practical, as the word is used here, doesn't really mean practical. There is nothing either practical or moral in Clinton's views. The world 'practical' here is used to mean her views are the ones that will get here elected, regardless of what effect they have on the population as a whole, and regardless of whether there is any morality in them.

'Practical' politics of the Clinton variety is the history of New Brunswick. That applies to both the Liberals and Conservatives - and, more than it should, to the NDP.
And here's a story guaranteed not to appear in the Irving press, though it comes from a most reputable news agency.

Still think it's a bright idea to drill for oil in the  Arctic and to build oil pipelines and encourage fracking? Still trust Obama and Trudeau to lift a finger on this? Still think it makes sense to open sprawling suburban developments that make cars necessary?

But, hey! If you can't trust JDIrvingLtd, who can you trust?
And here's a kind of important story that the Irving press missed. In  fairness, they may have decided the more important story was about the Texas mother who put her child in the oven.
Finally, a reader sent me this video of an interview with Episcopal (Anglican) Bishop Spong. It's titled there is no hell. And it's a far better read than I have ever seen on the Faith Page of the Irving press. (It's also the longest URL I've ever seen.)

Oh, a reader also sent me this. It's an article critical of an article that appeared in this blog. I can't find the original, though I do remember it.( I think I had been critical of it, too, though that might be a self-delusion to save my pride.) Anyway, here it is.

You might wonder whether Russia Insider sounds like a good source. Well,  all countries are full of news media that publish lies and propaganda. Russia Insider, in my experience, doesn't lie. It's not at all like the Irving press (or The Post). It has a bias, and that will cause it to leave out some stories. But it doesn't lie.

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