Friday, May 27, 2016

May 27: Get mad. Please.

Today's irving headline is not only the cheapest of sensationalism passing as news, it shows a stunning ignorance of recent history, and an insensitivity to Irish Catholics in general . "Kevin Vickers tackles Dublin protester".

     Some genius decided it would be a great idea to honour British soldiers who invaded a rebellious Dublin in 1916 to put down an uprising against British rule. And the British soldiers lost 100 dead - while killing 385 Dubliners. Eventually , this led to the end of British rule which had been murderous and arrogant and abusive for many lifetimes.

There are a great many Canadians whose ancestors had to leave Ireland because they were deliberately allowed  to starve to death in their thousands during the great potato famine. The Irish had to live on potatoes while they operated farms for their British overlords. And then, for several  years, the potato crop failed.
Oh, other crops did fine. But the British landowners took them away to sell for profit  while Irish farmers watched their families die.

     To hold a memorial service for the British dead in Dublin is like holding a memorial service in London for German aircrew who died while bombing London.  What genius in Ottawa decided our ambassador in London should attend this?

And there was no urgency. A man was  protesting this insult to Ireland. He had no gun or knife. He didn't even elbow anybody in the chest. And there were plenty of police on the spot.  What the hell made the Canadian ambassador to Ireland believe he should intervene in this? This is cheap, ignorant  journalism at its most ignorant.

The headline below this story is better only because it is so utterly worthless that it's not even offensive. "New Brunswick craft brewers battle for a bigger market". Gee. And here I thought businesses battled to get smaller.
The rest of Section A isn't quite as good as the first page.
The editorial is at least sensible.

Norbert says the premier's popularity is going down. Don't worry, Norbert. New Brunswickers will show them. They'll vote Conservative next time, and everything will be different. He does have one, annoying paragraph in there. He says our debt is still growing, and our health-care and education systems are failing to deliver as they should. Think hard, Norbert.

Our debt is growing. Could that possibly have anything to do tax havens? With the gift of our forests to billionaires? With interest free loans and grants to business friends of the government? With crackpot schemes  to move the library at great cost? And to benefit whom? Certainly not to benefit tax payers. Or library users. Or Main St. Why does your newspaper never write about that?
Our education is failing? No. What's failing is not education. It's us. And it's the irving press. This is a province which makes almost a cult of lacking intellectual or cultural activity. A high proportion of adults can't read. Well, if adults set that example, no education system on earh is going to be able to help their children.

We have the lowest per capita library budget in Canada. We have some of t he least intellectual activities I have ever seen in a library. We're now working to please a developer by making our library far more expensive and by dumping 40% of its meager holdings.

And we have a newspaper which is mostly trivial trash which encourages only mindless conformity. Of course, out children don't learn as much as they should. But it's not the fault of the educationo system. It's the fault of a society that actively discourages any possible use of the human brain. And the irving press is a big factor in that.

Oh, yes. And our health care is not what it should be. Maybe you can find a reason in the political and business interference in the operation of our health care system. And maybe you can find it by asking questions about why an excellent chief medical officer was fired.

Look carefully, Norbert, and maybe you'll figure out a major reason why things don't work in this province. A big reason is the failure of your newspaper monopoly to act with either intelligence or honesty - while putting the blame on everyone else.

Justin Ryan's column starts off looking lightweight, but develops nicely. It's worth a read.

Then we have another propganda column from the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, this time it's by the chief wheeze of AIMS. He invents a history in which the fathers of confederation had a 'dream' in which they longed for free trade.


The fathers of confederation didn't dream about anything but meeting the demands of their richer subjects. And the rich were then profoundly opposed to free trade. And skip the chatter about "the dreams the fathers of our dominion struggled so hard to build." there was nothing idealistic about them. Their sole purpose was to make money for the rich. And that's why they supported - not free trade - but a protective tariff.

And they struggled hard to found Canada? Bunk. The pressure was on them from British capitalists to united the colonies. The struggle, if there had been one, would have been one to prevent confederation.

Oh, and the commentary says that if we were to get full free trade within Canada, then it would be easy to get the Energy East Pipeline built. Wouldn't that be nice?
Then, toward the end, the Chief Wizard of AIMS says that the martimes have shown a desire for greater openess and more efficient standards of regulation on the pipeline. This is gibberish which has no connection to the pargraphs before and after it. I presume this is intended to be up beat. But It's just a misleading way of saying many martimers think they've been lied to about the pipeline, and they don't think the regulations are worth a damn.

Alec Bruce's column is largely a list of quotations that are quite unnecessary to make a point that could have been made (more clearly) in two sentences.
And, as usual, in these two pages of commentary, there is not a word about the world outside New Brunswick. This is really nose-in-your-own-bellybutton journalism.

No wonder New Brunswickers don't read. Smart choice.
Then there's Canada&World. After years of the U.S. surrounding Russia and China with military bases, missile sites, sea patrols by major warships, spy aircraft, and troops, China has put nuclear missile submarines on patrol, is challenging the right of the U.S. to be a local policeman, and is strengthening its defences. Russia is beefing  up its borders, relocating its missiles, and  strengthening its patrols. In short, the U.S. has for years been pushing the Russians and Chinese all over the world, and right up their borders. Now, Russia and China have drawn a line on the earth and sea.

At the slightest mistake, this could trigger a war which would almost certainly be a nuclear one. There are powerful people in the U.S. who want a war. They have said so. They have published it in Project for the New American Century. They want to conquer the world for U.S. business. With something over 16,000 nuclear weapons involved - and not just in the U.S. China, and Russia - we are at the most dangerous point in human history.

To add to that, some very dangerous economic and political collapse is happening in South America. It will certainly involve the U.S. In fact, some of it was set up by the U.S.

But none of this was important enough to make the Irving press. They needed the space for the story that new cars are selling well in New Brunswick.  

B2 has a story that we should  copy Shanghai education because it always scores tops in the world ratings tests.  Well, I have taught some hundreds of Chinese students. I taught them in Hong Kong, and I taught many who studied at Concorida.

Chinese students are raised in a society that has a profound respect for learning. Remember, it's not simply the teachers who affect exam results. It's also the students. My Chinese students were never late and never absent. If I mentioned an article, even casually, they would all have read it by the next day. It's not the teachers that do that. It's the social tone of Chinese families and sociey.
And it has drawbacks. They have a strong tendency to memorize rather than to learn. When I assigned an article to be read, they all did it immediately and well. Then I told them we would now learn how to criticize it. There was a dead silence, broken at last by one of the boys, Chan Ho Man.

"Sir", he said. "We cannot criticize this. It was written by a great man. We must study it and memorize it."

Criticism is essential to learning. But attitudes to learning don't happen just in school. They happen as products of the whole society. That's why it's damaging for children to grow up in a society that has little respect for learning. And that reads anything like the irving newspapers.

For many years, Jewish students topped the grades in Quebec provincial exams - though most of them had gone through the same schools as I had. That's because Judaism encourages a great respect for learning.   I frequently spoke in churches and in synagogues. If it was a synagogue, I knew I had to say something serious and informative. The might not always agree with me, But they wanted serious discussion. If it was a church, anything that would get a laugh was good enough.
There's really nothing else worth looking at in Canada&World. Trudeau gave a speech at the G7 meeting. It was the usual  pitch that big business wanted to hear. It's a line that has done wonders for profits over the last 30 years or so - but has lowered incomes and living standards over much of the world.  

Why did this happen? Why have millions of families fled their homes? Why are millions starving to death? Why are there millions of children who will never see a school?

Because a handful of oil billionaires and 'defence' contractors are getting even richer out of this. This phase started, I guess, with the illegal invasion of Iraq to get control of its oil. Then there was the creation of a rebellion in Syria, and the destruction of what had been a stable and relatively prosperous Libya. And so we all get sucked deeper into into a morass, kill ever more people, destroy whole societies - so the super wealthy can put more of the world's money into their tax havens.

I would be more impressed by Obama's words if he had admitted why the U.S. nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki when it was known that neither city was a military target of any sort - and when it was clear that the war was effectively over.

It was done because the Soviet armies were going through the Japanese like a knife through butter, and would soon be in a position to take China. And the U.S. wanted China for itself.

When it was obvious the U.S. wasn't going to get China, it got nice to Japan so that it would have a base and an ally to attack China some day.

Under this story are letters that say the Japanese deserved what they got because they had brutally killed civilians. They certainly did. Name me a warring country of the last 80 years or so that has not brutally murdered civilians. Start with the U.S. in Germany, Vietnam, Iraq and Libya.
I'm running late today. So I'm going to recommend the reading of all the lead stories in

for today, May 27.
There is growingly serious unrest over much of the world - much of if due to the seeming collapse of democracy as big business openly takes control. This is true in the U.S., much of Europe, South America. And where it goes is unpredictable.
More about the instability that doesn't make the news.

The uncontrolled power of the very wealthy is driving us all into instability  with a high risk of a final war. The wealthy aren't going to change. In Canada, neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives will change. In  the U.S., the 'great change' of Obama meant no change at all. Justin has shown no sign of coming to grips with the problems that face us.

The change has to come from us. And if we want to save our own skins, we have to change. We have to start looking at reality. We have to develop the courage to get away from groupthink and conformity.

Politically, there are only two parties in Canada that might make a change - but both need some change themselves, first. The Greens have to realize that environment is only part of the problem. And the NDP has to realize that we really don't need another liberal party. We need fewer wimps because the changes that have to be made are very great.
There's much more. But it's time to go.

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