Monday, March 28, 2016

March 28: there's distasteful--and there's disgusting.

de Adder, who does cartoons for the editorial page of the Irving press, is a fine artist. He is weaker as a political cartoonist.  And, in today's cartoon, he is distasteful.

Manneken Pis is a small, bronze statue of a little boy urinating into a small basin at his feet. It stands in Brussels. And that is de Adder's cartoon for the day. Oh, the little boy is urinating onto a terrorist.

I have no objection to a cartoon of a little boy urinating. (I know they do it, and even  have a memory of being a little boy and doing it.) My objection is that this has nothing to do with the terror that struck Belgium or with the Belgian reaction to it. Belgium is not dismissively urinating on the people who created that terror. On the contrary, it is reacting as a people in terror will do, by going into panic and filling the streets with howling racists looking for the blood of all Muslims - almost all of whom had nothing to with this. Belgium is not reacting dismissively. Quite the contrary, it is plunging into a racist pit that we have not seen since 1945.

And that isn't funny at all.

When the U.S. indiscriminately killed men, women and children by the millions in Vietnam with carpet bombing and agent orange and naptha, was there a cartoon of an Vietnamese child urinating on Americans? And where was the cartoon when the Americans, British (and Canadians) were killing Afghani and Libyans?

And wouldn't it have been cute to have a cartoon of an American child urinating on the bodies of over a million Iraqi men,women and children?

Where was the cartoon when troops of the U.S., Guatemala (and Israel) were murdering over 200,000 civilians in   Guatemala - including a great many clergy, nuns and brothers? Where was the cartoon when a New Brunswicker, Raoul Leger of Buctouche was murdered in that mass killing? Hell, the Irving press never even mentioned it at the time - and it still  hasn't.

A good political cartoon tells a truth that other forms of the media have missed. This one doesn't tell a truth of any sort. It tells of a light-hearted Belgian people dismissing terrorism  with a shot of urine. That is not what happened.
In fact, what happened is a small group of terrorists urinated on Belgium. And Belgium is reacting, I suspect, exactly as the terrorists wanted them to - in panic and hatred and racism. And, if this panic continues, Europe and the world are going to pay one hell of a price,  even bigger than the price we paid when Germany acted like this.

Oh, I do have a suggestion for that cartoon, though. Make it a cartoon of that little, Belgian boy urinating over the millions of people in the Congo impovershed, beaten, murdered -  by poor, little Belgium so it could loot their resources. That was going on into the 1950s. And it's still going on under Belgian, British, America and Canadian billionaires. You can read about it in Joseph Conrad's novel, "Heart of Darkness".

But I don't think anybody at Irving press reads books.
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There is nothing of substance in Section A news. The most interesting item is on page one - a photo of a model railway setup. And it is impressive.
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There's nothing of substance on the Opinion page. Norbert moans about the provincial economy and its budget and, as usual, without a single mention of the I----- word. Irving is far the wealthiest man in the province. We also, unless we are deaf and blind, know that his is a powerful  voice in the government. How is it possible to discuss the provincial economy without mentioning Irving?
What is the effect of his influence in government? What taxes does he pay? Are there taxes he doesn't pay? How much is the provincial budget designed to serve his interests? But good luck on finding the name Irving anywhere in an Irving paper - unless, of course, he is inducted into another hall of fame.

The lead commentary is, over half of it, about a football player. Above it is a big photo of a football player so we can know what a football player looks like.  Over half way through, we are suddenly told the commentary isn't about football. No, it's about how governments should be accountable to the public. And that is a concept that is neither new nor - nor anything. It's just trite and vague.

Steve Malloy offers some common sense about the job situation in the province. He doesn't have an answer. But he does address some of the fundamental causes, and that's a start.

Alec Bruce, again, doesn't really have a comment about anything.
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The front page of section B, Canada&World. Has a big photo of a Nazi riot in Brussels. Notice the man on the middle, right side of the photo. He's not a cute, little boy urinating on anybody. He's a raging Nazi.

At the bottom of the page is a photo of searchers after they had found the body of two-year old Chase Martens of Manitoba. For some reason, the story of this search had gripped me from the start. When his body was discovered, drowned, I felt as though it had happened to a child of mine.

I'm not sure why. I wonder how many others felt this way.

In general, there's close to  nothing of Canada,  and less of the world, in the four, miserable pages of Section B. The one story worth a read is the one about this year being the hundredth anniversary of the 'Easter Rising' in Dublin Ireland, the rising that eventually led to independence from Britain. We don't hear much about that rebellion. But it's a sharp reminder of the arrogance and cruelty of rule by an imperial power. (The people of Cuba and Haiti and Puerto Rico and Guatemala and India and China and Congo could tell us something about that.)
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The Guardian has reprinted an old story it had on the torture of prisoners. It probably never made your local paper.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/09/cia-torture-methods-waterboarding-sleep-deprivation

And here's a comment on it.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/28/cia-naked-photos-scandal-wake-up-call-americans

And, if the Irving press ignores most of the world, The Guardian doesn't ignore even Canada.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/26/canada-justice-system-ghomeshi-acquittal-sexual-assault-allegations-approach
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A good source I  have long neglected (due to my reliance on the web) is "Monitor" by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It's a bi-monthly publication with its head office at

CCPA@POLICYALTERNATIVES.CA
There's also TWITTER@CCPA
and
FACEBOOK.COM/POLICYALTERNATIVES

The March/April edition has a few interesting comments  about the Trans-Pacific  Partnership that the federal Liberals will be pushing for. Under its terms, we would have to pay pharmaceutical companies huge sums for delays in approving drugs. Huge, as in $636 million a year.

It will also make it extremely expensive, and probably impossible, for us to introduce new medicare plans -- like pharmacare.

This trade deal will effectively destroy our control over our own country. This is what free trade was designed to do from the start. The TPP will be its greatest triumph - handing over control of all its countries to big business.

There is also a note that Canada's military preparedness for peacekeeping has all but disappeared. Peacekeeping was probably the greatest triumph of our foreign policy from 1945 to the present day. It was what gave Canada stature at the UN. But we've thrown all that away. Our military can now act only as a servant to the American military. That's not going to do us or the world any good.

On the good news side, there's a note that Canada's CEOs won't be standing at soup kitchens. 100 of them, by the first work day of the year, will have made an average $48,636 BY LUNCH. Their average worker will work the whole year to make that much.

The average yearly pay  for those CEOs is $8.96 million. (How much do you make? Isn't it generous of us to have a minimum wage?)  I guess greed pays.
And don't worry about their tax bills. Monitor has a review of Gabriel Zucman's "The Hiddern Wealth of Nations." It's about tax havens (which, of course, no New Brunswicker would ever resort to). Canadians wealth hidden away is estimated at $300 billion dollars. Maybe you should read this book, Norbert.
There's also a review of "Class War" by Metan Erikson, a study of how big business (like Enbridge) has been buying off universities - and some professors. I can speak with some assurance of that. I was once approached by people from the oil industry to give talks and do some writing about how oil is good for us.
Of course, that could never happen in New Brunswick.

Oh, I should mention it also has a review of a Gwynne Dyer book I must read. It's called 'ISIS, Terror, and today's Middle East'. We have alowed ourselves to be stampeded by a relatively small group of people in a movement largely restricted to Arabs - and to a small minority even of them. But their system of terrorism which requires few people is actually doing more damage than our system of terrorism that costs trillions and has killed millions. It is also setting us up for a showdown with the whole Muslim world, a showdown that would be disastrous for all of us.

There is nothing to admire in the Belgian response to the Brussels attack. There is nothing to admire in the panic and extremism that Americans are showing.
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And here's a graphic story about life for children in Iraq. We can spend in the trillions to destroy.  But we can't spend a cent for poverty we created,  and for the human displacement by ISIS (which we also created). These children have no life. And it's not going to get any better.

God bless America.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2016/03/iraqi-children-scavenge-living-160321112736752.html
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I thought the following comment was too kind. I really don't think it will matter who gets elected president. The switch from Republican Bush to Democrat Obama made very little difference. The reality is that no matter who wins, the U.S. will be run by its billionaires.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/03/dear-america-don-damn-gullible-160323092918734.html
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http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-cia-pentagon-isis-20160327-story.html

Here's an example of why I never trust papers like the LA Times. It's a story about how, in northern Syria, a group armed by the CIA is fighting against a group armed by the Pentagon. It says this is the first time this has ever happened.

Rubbish.

This sort of thing has been going on for almost 16 years, often more. The U.S. routinely creates chaos in this way. ISIS was and perhaps still is getting its money by selling oil - with full American knowledge and even participation. ISIS also gets help, with full American knowledge,  from Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Al Quaeda depended on weaponry from the U.S. That's a relationship that goes back BEFORE the invasion of Afghanistan.
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The Huffington post has a report of a bitter attack by Fidel Castro on President Obama. I expect the North American press will dismiss it as the crankiness of an old man.  I don't think it is. I think he realized that his Cuban revolution has, after half a century, been defeated.

Until that revolution, the U.S. ruled Cuba with dictators who tortured, murdered and looted for the fun of it. There was nothing unusual about that. The U.S. treated much of Latin America that way - and still does.  The only purpose of Cuba was to be poor so it could supply cheap labour to American 'entrepreneurs' - as the Irving press would say.

Castro wanted h is people to have a chance at education, health care, decent living conditions. Despite what the Huffington Post story says, he was not a communist. In fact, the first country he turned to for help was the U.S. But the U.S. didn't, and still doesn't, give a damn for education, health care or decent living conditions, not even for its own people. It turned Castro down. It also began a long series of illegal 'sanctions' to prevent Cuba from trading with other countries.

Cuba turned to the communist Soviet Union as his only hope. And that's when he began calling himself a communist. Anyway, any person who has ever read Marx will realize that Castro was never a communist. Jesus might have been, though.

The U.S. backed an invasion of Cuba, set bombs in some of its resorts,  blew up a Cuban civilian airliner (talk about terrorism), and made many attempts to murder Castro. Then came the fall of the Soviet Union.  It was a devastating blow for Cuba which certainly couldn't expect help from anybody, and certainly not from a puppet Canada which wouldn't dream of challenging U.S. policy.
Somehow, Castro managed to make better ( and cheaper) education a right for all Cubans all the way through university - something neither the wealthy U.S. or Canada have even attempted. He established a medicare system available to all, and of very high quality, something the U.S. has never been able to do.

Now, it's over. Fifty years of sanctions have done their job. Privatization will spread like mould.Big business will infiltrate the univeristies as it has those in Canada. And there is no way American big business will allow Cuba to continue with a health care system that is far better than that of the U.S., and at  less than  half the price.

Now, it's over. Now, Cubans can live just like Americans - the ones in the slums of New York and the streets of Los Angeles and the ruins of Chicago.
If we were in that situation, we might be angry, too. (If the Irving press allowed us to wake up long enough.)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fidel-castro-obama_us_56f94816e4b0143a9b48a451?utm_hp_ref=politics
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Huffington Post always ends with a long list of its news sources. Most of that list is not impressive. It includes even Fox News, arguably the most corrupt and lying news service in the world.

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