Sunday, April 17, 2016

April 17: Pot-pourri


Ah, Sunday, a day to sleep in without shame. Then, I went through pile of old papers to find one I had forgotten about - though it's kind of important.

A small group of Israeli 'businessmen' have, for some time, been buying up large quantities Palestinian land which they sell to Israelis who then use it to creat illegal settlements The paper I discovered is a print-out from Haaretz by Chaim Levinson, dated Feb. 1, 2016. The headline is

"Almost all West Bank land deals for illegal settlements forged, investigation finds."

 It seems that whenever the Israeli government tried to evacuate Israelis who had settled illegally on Palestinian land, a company called Al-Watan would present papers that it had bought the land from Palestinians who lived on it. Now, after some years of this, a police investigation has found that the ownership papers were forged.

And what will the Israeli government do?   There has been no word on that. And I suspect there won't be.
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A friend from my teaching days sent me a copy of his university magazine ( U.of Chicago). It was devoted to a very clever idea about the teaching of history. It began with the railway shops where Pullman cars were built. Many of the shop buildings still exist, and with the old machinery still in place. So classes take place in the form of visits to them so that students get a real sense of what factory life was like back in the late 1800s.

Pullman was notorious for  low wages, extremely dangerous working conditions, and the slums its workers had to live in. In fact, that all led to one of the most violent strikes in American history. It's one thing to read about that, quite another to actually see the horror of such factory for yourself. (I once worked in one like that.) The hours were long the Pullman shops, the pay low, the machinery dangerous, and serious injury a daily occurence. The most  seriously injured were given rudimentary patching. Then, if the injury was serious enough - like the loss of an arm - their wages ended on the spot, and they were sent off to look after themselves.

Some of their 'housing' can still be seen.

This is a good way to really learn history - and it can be expanded so that students learn about history by seeing the houses that people lived in, the furniture, the clothing...by being IN history.

This could be done in Moncton, for example, starting with what is left of the docks, then the railway age with its engine repair shop still standing, homes of the period  (and what the styles tell us about the people who lived in them.) There are also (or were) remains of a railway roundhouse.

It's also a learning experience to get a sense of the social class of districts in various periods. What districts had the big churches? What denominations? What does that tell us?

Done  properly, such an approach could also be a group tourist draw with a period meal at one of the older houses.

http://thecore.uchicago.edu/Winter2016/features/chicago-city-syllabus.shtml?msource=SHORTLIST&tr=y&auid=16621394
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 Here's a different feeling about Attawapiskat, the native community that is experiencing a holocaust of suicides
.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/left-behind-in-attawapiskat-1.3538466
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Gee! Funny how professor Savoie didn't know about this when he wrote his book about the trouble the New Brunswick economy is in. And funny that Norbert hasn't mentioned this in his columns. You know, Norbert being such an expert on the economy and everything.

http://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/taxes/massive-offshore-tax-haven-account-leak-includes-names-of-450-wealthy-canadians

And doesn't professor Savoie read Financial Post? Or he could go to google, "Canada tax  havens".

The amount of our money in tax havens is estimated to be least 200 billion. Some estimates are higher. The tax on that would balance a lot of  government budgets.
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And here's an interesting story from CBC news on April 16. The New Brunswick government is planning to spend some $38 million dollars in tax money to buy a bankrupt shipyard, pay its debts and renovate it. The idea behind it is the usual, pious one - to create jobs.

But, gee, I thought the gospel in New Brunswick is that private business creates jobs. And read Norbert. He says that government doesn't know how to do anything. Only private business (like the one that went broke in this case) knows how to run a business.

And, if this is such a hot deal, why has no private business offered to buy it?
And won't this take money away from areas that need it - like education and  health - and that also create jobs?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/new-brunswick-naval-centre-1.3539203
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And, to stick my neck out, here are my predictions on the U.S. leadership races - and the general election.

1. The Republican brass will not allow Trump to win. Such a win would destroy the Republican party. And, in any case, Trump would almost certainly lose a presidential election.  The party will almost certainly go for Cruz - who, like Trump, is very unlikely to win the presidency.

2. Sanders would be the person most likely to win a presidential election.   But the Democrat brass will never let him get the nomination.

3. The Democrats will, almost certainly, choose Clinton who has virtually the same policies (and the same lack of ethics) that Cruz has. And Clinton can almost certainly beat Cruz in a  presidential race. But -

4. I wouldn't bet on any of the above. There's a big scandal hanging over Clinton's head - in fact, two big scandals. One concerns her illegal revelation of state secrets. If her name were Assange, she'd now be in a prison somewhere. Will the government press charges against her? It probably won't. I can't see Obama allowing any charge against the only person that the owners of the Democrats have who can win and who they want to win.

The other scandal is the very expensive speeches she's been giving to Wall St. honchos. She has received tens of millions of dollars (at least) for these speeches, all of them unreported. If they get out,  and there are demands for them to be made public, that could finish her.

Lurking under this is an even bigger question.

The connection between American voters and their government, whether Democrat or Republican, has broken. The myth that the U.S. is a democracy is now believed only by a minority. That's why we have two men who are polar opposites leading the in the races. Trump is the man for people who are disillusioned by the Republicans but haven't figured out why. He would be a disaster as president because the only alternative he offers is anger.

Sanders offers an alternative. The problem is that neither he nor Trump represent the fronts for big business that the parties have become.

Trump or Cruze or Clinton  could win on a very low turnout, with millions of permanently alienated voters staying home.

Sanders could win on a strong turnout, and maybe even on something less than that. But he would be a president without really having a party.

In any of these cases, the U.S. is facing the most important election in its history. One way or the other, this election will change the meaning of the nation to its people. And that could turn into something very violent and dangerous, indeed.
The greedy always overdo it. - and that reminds me.

Watch out for the TransPacific Trade Deal. Public debate on it is scheduled to begin soon. And don't trust Justin on this one.
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1 comment:

  1. as it turns out, not only is war a racket, so is global finance.
    the biggest criminals are always old grey men in old grey suits...
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/18/panama-and-the-criminalization-of-the-global-finance-system/

    ReplyDelete