Saturday, April 16, 2016

April 16: Sometimes you have to make a choice.

For its Saturday edition, the Irving press always has a Faith page. After all, the ownership of the paper is guided by its religious principles. That's why it proudly offers Christian services at its very own church. And that's why there's always a big Faith page in section C every Saturday.

Except this one. It needed five pages of section C to list all the candidates for school council and Regional Health Authority elections. (I don't know whether this was paid for by the government. I suspect it was. If so, there was big money involved, too.)  A tough choice would have to be made. Something would have to be cut.

The column on wine? No. Wine is too spiritual to cut.

Heloise on how pets need  sunscreem too? Certainly not.

The Lovescope - a column on finding a mate? No. People need that.
OOH- The Daily Horoscope. That's a big space. No. Without that, I wouldn't know that I should get together with friends today, or that love is on the horizon.
What had to go was the page of least importance.

 Of course. The Faith page. It's an understandable choice. We don't live in a Christian society. We never have. There is little trace of any religious principle in either the Liberals or the Conservatives. Christianity and capitalism are dead opposites. Like the United States and most of the western world, we talk about religion. But I see little evidence that we take it seriously.

What we need is a church that does horoscopes.
Gwynne Dyer has a new book about ISIS and related groups. It's called 'Don't Panic', and it's about ISIS, terror and the middle east. I won't kid you. Three quarters of this is a really tough read with pages of people and place names I have never heard of, and  cannot pronounce. But it pays off in the final quarter with simpler language that puts all the pieces together.

Briefly, ISIS is one of many extreme, religious groups who use terrorism at home and abroad to build their following. But they are, and will likely remain, a small proportion of the  Muslim world. These groups are also divided against each other. The real problem that Muslims  (and us) have to worry about is corporate bosses in the U.S. (and Russia).
So far, U.S. police have killed 298 people this year. That puts them on track for a record year of killing. And, as usual, the proportion of blacks being killed is some five times that of whites.
And here is one of the best accounts I have seen of Canada's crisis among its native peoples.
And Pope Francis continues give some real leadership in a refugee crisis most of us prefer to ignore.
The U.S.invasion of Iraq may well go down in history as the worst foreign policy decision ever. The U.S. shattered what had been a stable country. It created a country with over a million war dead, millions of refugees, utilities like electricity destroyed - and still destroyed, with money supposedly for reconstruction of hospitals and schools ending up in the pockets of American contractors, with an American-chosen government made up of thoroughly corrupt people, and a population religiously divided and in despair. And beyond the borders of Iraq, that war became the trigger for destabilization and chaos in the whole middle east.

Bush and Blair should have been hanged for that invasion. But it's also true that this was an invasion wanted by U.S. corporate bosses who own both the Republicans and Democrats. And those same people are the ones now supporting Cruz and Clinton.

Isis in Iraq may be defeated in a year or so. But Iraq as a nation will likely never recover.
Then there's this fascinating article on the trillions in American dollars held in tax havens. There's also a stunning chart comparing how much (little) American corporations pay in taxes to how much they collect in government gifts, loans, etc. I expect the proportions would  look much the same in Canada.
Here is an old story - the theories of why Hitler developed such a hatred for Jews. What it comes down to is that Hitler's hatreds don't need any exotic reasoning. It was exactly the same sort of reasoning that was taking shape in the Europe of his time, in Britain, in the U.S., and in Canada. Hitler didn't invent it. All us Christians did.

When Canada's prime minister Mackenzie King visited Hitler, he well knew Hitler's attitude to Jews, and his persecution of them. His comment on that meeting was, "Hitler's eyes reminded me of Joan of Arc."
Section A of today's Irving press has an important story. Some thirty protestors gathered near the Champlain Mall in Monctonto to demand a fifteen dollar minimum wage. It would certainly be easy to raise that money. Just get the wealthy to pay their taxes.

It's a very small story. Facing it is one equally important in the judgement of the editors "Moncton Poutine Festival sells out in less than an hour."
 The editorial is another "in memoriam". I don't doubt that the person being remembered was an outstanding citizen. But that is not what an editorial is for.

Norbert has a column he writes every week or so. It's about fossil fuels and public consultations. He's opposed to have government committees study these things. I'm not.

 I think  government should study what they plan to do before they do it. I also think the idea of public consultation is always a con job. Real public consutation is what happens on election day after the candidates have told us what they intend to do. Then one party gets elected to do it, presumably following principles it has outlined during the election campaign, principlies which we could read about if the Irving press would ever print them.

We don't elect a government so it can ask us what to do. As well, the people of New Brunswick are poorly informed by most of their news media, so most have no capacity to make such decisions. Why this NB fuss to have consultations in a society which is afraid to discuss political issues publicly in the first place?

Murphy's Law is about the top five issues for the municipal elections. Two problems. All five are economic issues - as if the city were a business. It's not. But this also column reads like a business report in another respect. All the problems it does touch on are short term ones.

Moncton needs a  population that is NOT conformist, that is free to think and to speak publicly as it sees fit. What should the city do to encourage that? (Hint, a library is not just a storage place for books. It needs adequate funding to encourage intellectual activity in the community. And no, I do not mean colouring books for adults.  Moncton desperately needs to break out of its village conformity.)

It needs work on sewage treatment, flood planning,  river restoration, yes. It also needs some long term planning that should have begun twenty years ago on public transit and urban planning.

Where  can it get that funding? Well, that would call for finding out what tax money we aren't getting from the wealthy of this province. It would call for naming names, and urging the federal government to be more inquiring than it has been.

And Alec Bruce? This column is  a nicely written little story. But that's all it is.

Look, we have a province with a minimum wage of $10.65. We also have a few people who make $10.65 in the time it takes to stifle a yawn. And we have some who make a lot more than that. They aren't job creators. They're looters. And it seems that some of them, at least, while collecting big money gifts from government, do not pay taxes. If we keep following that path, we are destroying ourselves, and our own children. And soon.

This is the big issue that we should be reading about in this paper.

The guest column is a useful one of the practical requrirements of any law regarding physician-hastened death.
On the front page of Canada&World is a big story that journalists at a sister-paper in the Irving press have been nominated for a prize. Big deal. The world of journalism is full of  awards. It's like  having a birthday every day. I won several for radio and and at least a couple for print. Nobody got excited. Today, I can't even remember what I got them for. (To make it worse, the radio plaques were given to the station, and hung up on its walls. I only got to look at them.)

None of the Canada&World news says much about anything. Most of it is ads. Then there's Canada in second place, a couple of U.S. stories....

The only story worth reading (in its own, peculiar way) , is "Mississippi governor signs law allowing guns in church."
I think we may have to wait quite a while before Trudeau has anything to say about Canadians and tax havens. For the full meaning of 'wait a while', think of 'eternity'.
In my general annoyance with today's paper, I forgot to mention an excellent column by Amanda Cormier, a student columnist now studying at Mount Allison. It's about the government  announcement of free tuition for some New Brunswick students. Everyhing she says is quite right. - though I would add a point.

 For a person who is poor, the very idea of university is simply not a part of that person's world. In the minds of their parents, their social circle, in their own minds, university is an alien concept. They've grown up in  a world in which success and ambition  mean having a job, any job and, if lucky, a steady job. And there is a very dark veil between them and the rest of the world.

One of ms. Cormier's statements did confuse me, though. She says students in universities experiment with their sexuality. Now, I was a university student for eight years; and nobody offered to experiment with my sexuality.

Do you have to sign up for it?

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