Friday, April 1, 2016

April 1: you have to learn to hate...

...luckily, it's easy to teach.

Section A has its usual display of non-news - like court reports, government announcements that it's getting ready to do something. It's trivial; but it's cheap; and it requires no digging at all for information.

As for the editorial, well, if you missed yesterday's propaganda 'news' that the Atlantic Insitute of Market Studies (an institute with a history of Irving connections) says we  should lower taxes, the editorial repeats it for us. And it adds the old, rallying cry for all the workers of this province who depend on government medicare, free public education, roads, police services, etc. And, it says, most of us resent seeing our hard-earned money being taxed away.

Damn right. We'd rather spend ten times as much to get private services for all that. Meanwhile, the Irving press should run a  full edition of photos of the calloused hands of the billionaires and millionaires of this province, painfully worn out by shuffling their money into tax havens. Or maybe photos of the callouses on their rear ends from their intense hours of sitting.

I have known more than a few of that crowd. Their attitude is that they earned that big money, so they should be allowed to keep it, all of it. That justifies the demand for very low taxes for themselves - and also for hidden bank accounts. People need excuses for even (especially) the most cruel and selfish things they do. That's why the British and French needed to be racist to justify building their empires. That's why the U.S. has to hate muslims.

This editorial is beneath contempt.

Norbert again moans about the debt of this province without once mentioning the role of the wealthy in creating that debt.

Cole Hobson has his usual, pointless tale about a local man who wore a bunny suit while riding a bicicyle on Easter Sunday.    Talk about tough, two-fisted, commentary.

Then there's a guest column by the President and Vice-Chancellor of University of New Brunswick. (Well, it says its by him. But the writing style is very much that of a PR man). And it's not really a commentary. It's an advertisement. More disturbing, it's largely about what wonderful work UNB is doing in partnership with private industry.

The latter bit might sound nice. But the function of a university is not to be 'partners' with any commercial enterprise. It is not to provide cheap research and relatively cheap labour for big business. University presidents might usefully give a bit of thought to what a university is supposed to be.

Alec Bruce has a column that seems to be about Trump then, over half way through, becomes one about the need for more jobs in New Brunswick. Alas, we already know that, and this adds nothing to our understanding.

And I must take exception to  one of his lines. "...governments don't, in fact, create jobs." That simply isn't true. Governments all over the world have been creating jobs for centuries; and not just within government circles, either. For a start, the whole Canadian war industry of World War Two was created and closely controlled by government. And it was extremely effective.  In a shadier example of that, many, many jobs in the U.S. depend on government corruption to create a war industry that is now a major factor in the U.S. employment picture. And, oh, what would all those poor, jobless Irvings do without government gifts - like our forest?

There is not a thing in section A worth reading.
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Canada&World section is its usually sloppy, lazy and indifferent self.

The lead story is that New Brunswick ranks low in its proportion of university graduates. In fact, dismally low.The academics, business people, etc. that the paper reports on don't even come close to understanding the problem.

The will to go to university is profoundly dependent on social class. The poor don't go - not because they're stupid but because they've grown up believing that this is not for their sort. Then New Brunswick adds another inhibition. This province has an extremely low level of intellectual activity. So many children grow up not realizing there is any such thing as intellectual activity. There is very little open discussion or debate. And to disagree with what most people think is an act of horror. Learning is very low priority in this province.

Nor are the universities much of a big, fat help. University teachers, almost all of them, have no training whatever in how to teach. Nor do must of them discuss it or read about it - or care about it. They're hungry for prestige; and there's no prestige in knowing how to teach. They still think of themselves as twelfth-century philosophers sitting on rocks while eager minds cluster at their feet to hear any pearls of wisdom that drop.  In the community, they're virtually invisible unless giving speeches and interviews that Mr.Irving approves of.

Fixing this is a big job that needs everybody's help. And it's not going to get any help out of academics or big business. They live in their own worlds that are all about themselves.

The last page has a story worth noting. Terrorist violence in Europe has become the kiss of life for politicians so far to the right they can safely be called fascists and racists. There's a whole generation of them rising to power. Hitler is, once again, mainstream.

The reality in the U.S. is that one is  far less likely to be killed by a terrorist than to be killed by a policeman or a drunk driver. (U.S. police, alone, are heading for another thousand plus year of kiling.)

Somehow, it all reminds me of the day Hitler was in his very luxurious private train, He was returning from a visit to his generals who were fighting the Russians. The train had made an extended stop at a station. Hitler used the opportunity to sit at his dining table with flowers, excellent wine, servants and a damn, fine meal.

A train pulled up beside his, also for an extended stop. Hitler glanced at his sparkling windows to see that in the other train were hundreds of pairs of hollow eyes in faces shrunken by hunger, and staring at the wonder of their leader's luxury. They were wounded soldiers from the German armies in Russia.

Always a quick thinker, and eager to ease the pain he saw in those eyes, Hitler ordered an intendent to close the curtains on the windows. Then he turned back to the meal and the wine, satisfied he had done his bit for his followers.

The Irving press would probably have labelled him a 'philanthropist'.
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This is an interesting item on climate change - you know, that process that the editorial writer for the Irving press has assured us is nothing to worry about.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/01/generation-anthropocene-altered-planet-for-ever
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In what may seem to be a trivial story, China's movie industry has financially surpassed that of the U.S. It's a hint that China, some day soon, will replace the U.S. as a world leader in this industry. And which country dominates that industry has a profound effect on how the world sees it, and itself. This is a lot more important than it may seem.

(Do not be turned off by the photo of the mermaid. I'm sure China can find a better one.)

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/apr/01/chinas-box-office-certain-to-overtake-us-as-takings-up-50-in-2016s-first-quarter
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And this one is because it's nice to read something nice about Canada.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/31/vision-of-progressive-britain-called-canada-justin-trudeau-trudeaumania
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I haven't shown much about the American leadership races because I don't think it matters a whole lot who wins.

These are  races in which only one candidate, Bernie Sanders, has mentioned the alarming, domestic problems the U.S. faces - a hopelessly expensive medical system, an education system in sharp decline, severe unemployment coupled with a crippling of social services....

Among all of the candidates, I have not heard a whisper about the disastrous failures of American foreign policy over the last 16 years, the extreme jeopardy of the crisis in the middle east, the military failures that have been a feature of American wars for over   50 years, the extreme corruption of the defence industries, the collapse of American democracy...

Sanders is the only one who has anything useful to say about anything. But, as president, he would be close to helpless in the face of a congress that has long since been bought.

Trump has no  opinions, only news clips. In any case, he would have to toe the line as president - just as Bush and Obama did. The U.S. has bigger billionaires than Trump.  Cruz and Clinton are both bought, and will stay bought. The days after the election will result either in social collapse or a  collapse masked by fear and hatred.

But, just because I have to put in something about the leadership races, here it is.

http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/americas/2016/03/insults-mudslinging-sink-republican-race-lows-160329181601334.html
The insults and mudslinging are coming from people who really have nothing else to offer.
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Yesterday, I criticized those who put all the blame on the Israeli military officer who deliberately shot and killed an already helpless and wounded Palestinian. When I first read the piece below in Haaretz, I thought it disagreed with what I said. In fact, though still heaping all the bad words on the officer, the focus of this opinion is on the people of Israel. And there we are in complete agreement.

We kill people in numbers and in ways we could not have imagined just over a century ago. We murder civilians in huge numbers, men, women and children, and with enthusiasm, something that would have been questioned just generations ago.

Israel has pretty much abandoned all but the formal rites of Judaism. Much the same is true of Christianity - and we're now seeing it in Islam. Capitalism, never angelic, has become ruthless in its greed, and so destructive it is even destroying itself. As for the churches, I note that the Irving chapel has no problem in hiring a prestigious rentarev each summer. And I can just guess which sins he will NOT mention.

In almost every part of the world, we have been watching a general collapse in moral standards. Like the columnist for Haaretz, I think that the act of killing a helpless man was terribly wrong. I just don't blame the killer. I blame all the killers. And they include us. We have encouraged the racism and hatreds that made this possible.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.711888?utm_content=%24sections%2F1.711888&utm_medium=EMAIL&utm_source=SMARTFOCUS&utm_campaign=1339605&utm_term=20160331-12%3A03
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