Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August 3: We'll start with a small dose of religion....

During one of the party leadership races, a candidate announced that, if he became president, he would declare the US officially a Christian nation. We'll leave aside for the moment the awkward fact that "Christian" America has been murdering and torturing on a monstrous scale for generations. We'll settle for the statement that the largest group of church attenders in the U.S. is made up of Christians.

The same is true of the whole, western world - including Russia. However in much of Africa and Asia and the middle east, the dominant faith is Muslim. India is largely Hindu. China,  until 1950 or so, was largely Taoist and Confucist.
Now, isn't it odd we should find faiths in such lumps? People say they believe. I'm sure they do. But does it make sense they should believe in the form of huge, geographic blocs? How do they arrive at the faith of their choice? Do they read about faiths all over the world? Do schools in Moncton teach Taoism and Confucianism and Hinduism and all the rest? And then do the children discuss it and decide what faith each will adopt?

I haven't seen much of that. Normally, the children adopt the faith of their parents, and the parents, usually, are people of the same faith. And the grandparents. And the great grandparents.

Then they go on to belittle and even hate those of other faiths -and even to kill them. The American wars in  Latin America were fought largely by Christians on each side. So were the European wars. In World Wars One and Two, we fought against German and Italian Christians. Hitler was a practicing Catholic.
How do we decide what we believe in? And why do we so often act in contradiction of it?

Understand that I am not suggesting any of this as a criticism of faith, any faith. I'm trying to understand how us humans think, and why we think as we do.
And at least one part of this seems obvious. We believe in the faith we do, for the most part, because it is the faith of our families and/or our community. To put it less gently, we choose our faith to be seen as an act of conformity. We choose our faith in much the same way we choose our clothes or decide to get a tatoo. And we think we believe in what we're doing.

But, generally, our thinking about our faith is pretty shallow. A fundamental article of faith for Christians (as for most religions) is "Thou shalt not kill". But we Christians, like other faiths, have killed over a hundred million people in the past century. I really don't think that is what Jesus had in mind. Most of the world suffers under an economic system that is based on greed and that causes enormous death and suffering. I have seen nothing in the writings of Christianity or Judaism that advocates this.

We hate, we kill, we torture, we impoverish, we enslave.  (George Washington was the biggest slave owner in the U.S. He was also an Anglican, though there are long debates about his religous beliefs. George Bush attacked Iraq to steal its oil. He killed at least a million people. He's still a respected Methodist.)

In war, our churches, mosques, synagogues, temples are almost always on side with our governments. The sermonettes in the irving press never criticize the murder and plundering that the Christian world indulges in. No. They play it safe with tales of how loving Jesus will help you to sleep better. And they wring their hands in joy at the thought of billions of people who will go to hell because they were born in a region that didn't believe in Jesus.

(As I wrote the above, i thought of the Israeli rabbi who recently said it was okay to rape muslim women during a war.)

Religion, all over the world, is immersed in conformism, that need we have to be just like our neighbours, our fear of being different and excluded. And what it comes down to is that most people don't practice the substance of any religion at all.

That's not a criticism of religion. That's a criticism of us people. Us people need religion. But we're weak on it all over the world. And most (almost all) of us don't have any religious values at all - just a superficial conformity.
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Section A news has one item worth reading. It's about the generosity of our provincial government. "Firm got over $5 million despite missed target".

Then there's another big one about how a boy's bike was stolen in broad daylight - while his family was at a home!!!! And there's a police photo of a robbery suspect. All you can see is a tiny part of the forehead. But, it you see a person with a forehead like that, call the police.

Shockingly, there is no ad for this sunday's service at the irving chapel. The space was filled with an ad for a sandal sale. What will irving church-goers do? A sandal sale might be too intellectually challenging for the sort of person who goes for coffee and tea in the irving  barn.

Commentary and opinion pages are - well... Norbert does an okay column on drunk driving.

Then there's a column on the high debt of prairie farmers. This comes from Canada West which, like AIMS, is a propaganda house owned by big money. This one has nothing to say. It seems, though, from its final line, to be an ad to get people to become connected with it. For more information about Canada West, check out -

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/donald-gutstein/2012/02/canada-west-foundation-rewrites-history-think-tank-tracker

Following that are two, pointless stories (Brian Cormier and Alec Bruce) that have nothing to say at all.

The Canada&World section is the best I have ever seen in the irving press. It has three stories worth reading. - though none of them is about the world. Two stories are about the dangerous decline in Canada's fish stocks - a decline that threatens not only our supply,  but also the decline of those larger sea creatures that feed on them.

And, the Yukon salmon - a major food item for thousands of years - are pretty much gone. So salmon for food now has to be flown in.

The U.S. air force has now announced the problem-plagued and way over budget F-35 fighter is ready for service. I doubt whether that's an intirely honest statement. But watch now for the pressure on Canada to buy this extraordinarilly priced and problem plagued aircraft. And watch for Justin to buy it.

This aircraft, by the way, is something we (might) need for a conventional war with Russia or China. But any such war would last only minutes before going nuclear. In short, the F35 is useless for any Canadian purpose. is it possible the makers would bribe Canadian officials?

 Of course. That's what the defence industry does with all 'customers'.
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Here is an item well worth reading. And this opinion (believe me) does not come from the our leaders and philosophers in the oil industry.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/03/climate-crisis-media-relegates-greatest-challenge-hurtle-us-collapse-planet
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I enclose the following column only because it's such a bad one, and indicative of what seems to be happening to The Guardian. The writer is, I think, an American who throws around terms like leftwing and the 'new generation of Americans' with no sense whatever of what those words mean. He writes that Assange denies having had any contact with Russia in producing his wikkileaks. But he adds that  the FBI thinks he did - and concludes that Assange must be lying. This is a column of sloppy thinking, and no definitions at all.

As to his belief that Americans should be outraged by Putin interference with American politics, can he think of any major power in history that has NOT interfered with the politics of other countries? And the U.S., if anything, has set world records in intefering.

//www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/03/russia-putin-trump-us-politics-sanders-supporters-response
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I was drawn to this one by its catchy title. Turns out it's an excellent article on the state of U.S. society - and it is not overstatement to suggest it may develop into severe violence. Canada is next door - and so closely tied to the U.S. economically and in the tendency to be a police state - that we, too, could become part of the North American basket case.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article45228.htm
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The U.S. is at war with Libya - though you wouldn't guess it reading the irving press. And it is not a coincidence that Libya is a major oil producer. This is another phase in the American war to conquer the world for the benefit of a handful of U.S. billionaires.

Oh, it's all perfectly legitimate. It was invited to bomb by the government of Libya (which was largely created by the U.S.) The bombing is daily and, as bombing does, it is killing civilians. Then, we can send in Christian missionaries.

Or we could go to the heart of the problem, and send missionaries to U.S. oil billionaires.

http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/08/03/more-airstrikes-in-new-us-war-in-libya/
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Countercurrents.org is based in India; so much of its coverage is of India. But here's a story from India that has bearings on daily life in New Brunswick - as in forest spraying.

http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/08/03/monsanto-in-india-meet-the-new-boss-same-as-the-old-boss/

I'm finding that countercurrents.org is, in general, an excellent source. And, for broader coverage, there are sections on globalization, climate, world news.....
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The next is an opinion the irving press has not mentioned - and won't. The source, rabble.ca, has the best of Canadian commentators and journalists.
http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/rafe-mair/2016/08/trudeau-rich-climate-change-rhetoric-poor-courage-to-follow-through

Expect more of  this sort of thing from Justin.
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And here's an interesting pair of stories about how the nation state is going out of existence with all of us becoming ruled by international corporations.
https://theintercept.com/2016/08/03/chinese-couple-million-dollar-donation-jeb-bush-super-pac/

https://theintercept.com/2016/08/03/citizens-united-foreign-money-us-elections/

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I don't recall seeing this Canadian story in the irving press. Nor have I seen any reaction from the Canadian government. Isn't it kind of serious when our own police set people up for long prison terms? This is very American, I know. But hasn't Trudeau realized that he governs Canada? Or does he know the difference?

https://theintercept.com/2016/08/03/court-throws-out-terrorism-conviction-in-canada-citing-police-entrapment/
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I shall follow the irving press closely to see whether irving will defy the materialism of the sandal sale and open his chapel to worshippers this Sunday.

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