Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 3: The no news for New Brunswick

The Canada&World section never fails to amaze me. One of the big stories is that an RCMP officer had to shoot a bear because it was coming to toward him. Another - Prince Harry is in Toronto to shake hands with people.  (of course. What else is there to do in Toronto?) It was exactly one year ago that premier Notley of Alberta defeated the conservatives. (who could possibly care?) Okay, give it a couple of lines. But a half page?  And people flying economy class don't like those flying first class. So bloody what?

On page 4 of a six-page section, we're still not out of Canada. And almost every word in those six pages is trivial. Then there are two pages that tell us nothing much - closing with the polar bear getting shot.

 The Canada and World section is too bad to be simply  the result of stupidity and incompetence. After all,  you have to work to find news as irrelevant as this.This is just trash. As it happens, a reader sent me some stories that really are important
So here are the reader's stories.

I think it was yesterday that the Irving press carried the news that the Syrian government had used sarin, an illegal chemical agent, against the rebels. But according to Seymour Hersh, who beats anybody on the Irving staff, the sarin had been captured by the U.S. in Libya. It was then sent to Syria - but to the "rebels", not to Assad. And the person who signed the approval for that was - Hillary Clinton.


Then there's this item. Note from its wording that it is sympathetic to the U.S. position, so this isn't just some anti-American attack. It's not anti-American at all. But it's a sample of the tremendous dangers that face us, dangers that the Irving press doesn't seem to notice in its lah-dee-dah news gathering.


Wars very seldom work out as they are supposed to. The world went to war in 1914 with little sense of the impact the machine gun would have, and how it and barbed wire would bog down  both sides. In 1939, the British, Americans and, at the start, the Germans, had little idea of how to use tanks or what performance in speed,  gun power and armour was needed. Hitler lost the Battle of Britain because he had not anticipated the need for heavy bombers and long-range fighters. Vietnam and Iraq were supposed to be fast and easy wars. So was Afghanistan. But it's still being fought after fifteen years.

Planning a war is rarely a sure thing. It's rather more like playing Russian roulette with a revolver.
Section A is  not as good as Canada&World. It has a long story on mayoral candidates in Dieppe without telling us anything useful about either of them. A men's wear store in Moncton has new owners. Who could possibly care? An upper class hotel in London, England serves McCain's french fries. Be still, my heart.

The editorial and Norbert's column are about topics that have long since been talked to death.

The guest commentary, calling for povincial help for the Bas-Caraquet boatyard, is by the CEO of a shipping company. What a surprise! It is not, to put it gently, a very convincing commentary, partly because of its lack of evidence.

For some, probably bizarre, reason, the picture over the boatyard commentary is of a monster cruise-liner that looks like a high-rise hotel. I'm quite sure that picture was not taken at the Bas Caraquet boatyard; and I'm quite sure the boatyard will not be building those. So what's the point of the picture?

Alec Bruce again chooses to write about nothing.

Louis Glibert's column "seniority rules" is, as always, a useful one. But it's not really a commentary. It should be on an advice page.
John Kerry has backed himself (and maybe the world) into a terrible corner. He wants to separate terrorist groups, like al Quaeda from the Syrian 'rebels', and also to stop the help they've been getting from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others. One of the problems of that is, of course, Saudi Arabia and others don't want such a separation. And the problem was created by the U.S. in the first place because it initiated the policy of secretly supplying money, weapons and other help to these groups as well as to ISIS. That happened because the U.S. wanted to get rid of Assad. Originally, the plan was that the 'rebels' would take care of that. But the rebels failed, partly because they have little support within Syria. As well, many of them are mercenaries and/or have close ties to terrorist groups.
The U.S. still wants to get rid of Assad. But the Russian entry into the war has pretty much forced the rebels and ISIS out of the picture. Tough luck. The U.S. really has nobody else to deal with to get rid of Assad. It's Russia or nobody.

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave..."

The overthrow of South American governments by invasion, assassination, mass murder is common practice for American governments. It's done to keep South America as easy pickings for American (and Canadian) corporations in agriculture (like Dole), in mining, and other fields. That's what the killing in Guatemala was about ( several times), the long hostility to Cuba, the invasion of Haiti, the assassination of the president of Chile....

For some reason, the Irving press never mentions these. I wonder why.

And here's some news on the big trade deal that the Irving press seems never to have heard of.

And one more on that latin world that never exists in the pages of the Irving press.

And here is a report that New Brunswickers should take seriously, very seriously. There is no hope for this province as long as its people are afraid to be different - afraid to disagree.

Norbert Cunningham wrote recently that he finds the CBC lacking in the high quality journalism that he is accustomed to. He should lower himself to listen to it more often. Here's a story we haven't seen in the Irving press. But it's an important one. The 'hotline' connecting Washington and Moscow has been restored This takes us back to cold war days. And that means we're again just a step from a world war.

Putin has established himself as the decisive figure in the fighting in Syria. The U.S., which has been specializing in foreign policy blunders for at least 15 years, is now only a bit player with limited influence even among its allies.This decline of U.S. power goes back at least to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and, of course, the policies of George Bush so closely followed by the same policies under Obama.

But the policies were not set by either Bush or Obama. They were set by a much older problem - the dominance of billionaires in setting foreign policy. Their only interest in foreign policy arises from their greed - and they have made some very bad decisions as a result.

George Bush Sr. understood that. That's why he was very much opposed to his son's foreign policy. (But then, the father always had more brains than either of his sons.)


There's good book by a man who undersood early what was going wrong. He wrote a book on it in 2004 which still holds up well. It's Gwynne Dyer, Future Tense: The Coming World Order.

But - a caution. It can be depressing.
Now, for your spritual moment. There are many similarities between  Islam and Christianity. That's hardly surprising  since both come from much the same people in the same region. Both believe in the End Times - the end of the world. Both believe that Jesus will return to the world at that time. The only difference is that Muslims say he will then get married. Both believe in the  resurrection of the dead, the clash with the anti-Christ, the judgement for heaven or hell....
As to  behaviour, there are also similarities. There was a point when the Catholic church took a back seat to nobody in torture and killing - the latter often by beheading, just like ISIS. Discrimination against Jews was common in the Christian world - including in Canada and the U.S. There was many a Christian (including  Hitler) who played a leading role in the holocaust.

I don't know many Muslims, so I really don't know how many look forward to the 'end times'. But I have known many Christians who are. (There was a time when I often conducted services on Sunday - and many, many times that I spoke in synagogues (though not conducting the service.)

Christians, especially fundamentalists who believe that every word of the Bible was dictated by God, often look forward with great joy to the end times. (Because they're going to heaven - and you aren't.) And the belief that these are the end times has been particularly strong in the last fifty years or so. That's why Israel suffers a plague of evangelists going knocking on doors and handing out pamphlets to Israelis warning them to convert - fast.

I   wonder how much these beliefs have affected our views of the world and what's happening to it?


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