Friday, December 2, 2016

Dec.2: The world on the edge.

The standoff between protesters and police (and the military) at Standing Rock is front page news in many papers. That's especially true as severe winter weather closes in, and as hundreds of American war veterans join in to support the protesters against police violence. But it didn't make the irving press. No. In its world news section, the big news in the irving press was about how we won't learn what the salaries of local doctors are until next year - maybe. Gee. And I was counting on learning that.

There's nothing even on the big news about the death of Fidel Castro. North American news media have been going wild with their fury about that terrible, terrible dictator. But no news medium I have seen has the whole story on dictatorships in Latin America.

There are at least 15 dictatorships in Latin America. Fourteen of them were created by the freedom-loving leaders of the United States with the enthusiastic support of corporations in the U.S. - and of Canada. Yes, and of the government of Canada. Yes. When it comes to cruel dictators, we just love them.

In most cases, mining companies have been prominent, along with United Fruit Company which owns much of the continent's farmland.  (United Fruit is those nice people who bring you Dole pineapples.)

Castro's dictatorship was marked by poverty, it's true. But that's because the U.S. had blockaded most of its trade, and kept Cuba under constant threat. But Castro still managed to create one of the best education systems and one of the best medical systems in the world.

The American/Canadian dictators in Latin America brought  deeper poverty, humiliation, environmental destruction and mass murder. They murdered over 300,000 in Guatemala, making particular targets out of missionaries, nuns..... (But New Brunswickers can go to see the grave of one of their victims, a lay missionary named Raoul Leger of Bouctouche, New Brunswick.  The grave is not far from the Irving chapel,   so one can be sure it's certified holy ground.)

There is an excellent book on Canadian involvement in the dictatorial horror  inflicted on Latin America - and Africa and Asia.  It's by Todd Gord and Jeffrey R. Webber (Fernwood Press) 'The Blood of Extraction; Canadian imperialism in Latin America'.

And every Canadian government has been involved up to its ears in this. And Canadian mining companies. And, yes, the big buyers of those bonds know exactly what's happening.

The editorial cartoon is an obvious type. It shows New Brunswick going over a waterfall with its government spending. Very courageous. But it would be a lot more courageous (and honest) if the cartoon were about WHY the spending is going over a waterfall. How much of that is due to favours and gifts for big business in this province? How much is due to the very wealthy dodging taxes with tax havens?

Our business leaders are equal opportunity thugs. They are quite as happy to bleed us as they are the people of Honduras and Guatemala and el Salvador....
The most alarming story in today's paper is one from Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dion,  that Canada and the U.S. have to work together to face the "Russian challenge".

What Russian challenge?

Russia is not setting up nuclear missiles on the US/Canada border.  Russia does not have fleets patrolling the edges of Canadian and American waters. The only challenge going on is that the US is challenging Russia.

Of course, this is the old game of using Canada as bumboy. The last time was when Canada sent troops to die in South Africa so that British businessmen could steal that country's gold. Bend over and do your own kissing, Mr. Dion.
This is something to watch. The U.S. has been quite keen to invite us into its imperial wars, and the last, several p.m.s have been only too eager to comply.
This opinion piece, by Stephen Hawkings, is important. The presentation is a little weak and vague - but for anyone who takes the time to think about it, it tells us that we are well into an age in which the self-seeking interests of capitalism are going to be extremely damaging to us - as well as to capitalism itself.   (So don't expect this one to make the pages of the irving press.)
When economic times get tough, it is a standard practice for capitalist governments to make the poor suffer while the rich get a free ride. That's what the great depression of the 1930s in Canada was all about.

A   good book on the depression in Canada is by Linda Grayson and Michael Bliss (and by prime minister RB Bennett, who was prime minister through much of the depression). Bennett, a New Brunswicker  often caricatured as the ulitmate, uncaring capitalist, was really a far better man than he gets credit for.
The world is watching standing rock. But the people of New Brunswick aren't - and won't be watching it if irving press has any say in the matter.
So far, it's also shaping up to ignore the pipeline protests in Canada.
Here's a story that's important - which is why we're not likely to see it in the irving press. Donald Trump's choice to look after medicare is a man determined to destroy it. Of course, the irving press won't mention this. If it did, readers would shake their heads and ask. "Isn't this what recent New Brunswick governments want to do?"
Here is a defence of Castro's rule in Cuba - and quite a good defence. For Norbert Cunningham, compare the rate of literacy in Cuba to that in New Brunswick. In Cuba, it's 100%. Does that make you think, Norbert? (New Brunswick has one of the lowest literacy rates in Canada.)

Oh, of course Norbert isn't going to think. If he did, he'd lose his job.

It's in human nature to make simplistic decisions and judgements.  So Dictatorship is bad. Democracy is good.

In reality, I don't see a whole lot of good coming out of our 'democratic' societies.  In fact, I don't even see what's good in a U.S. or a Canadian democracy which puts real power and privilege into the hands of the very wealthy. Nor do I see bad in a Cuban dictatorship which educates its children and cares for its sick.

Yes, some dictatorships can be quite terrible. I think here of all those dictatorships supported by Canada and the U.S.  But, obviously, Cuba is not in that category.
Here's a  very small piece of a very big story. This is the only journalist to admit to it - but it is common practice for  private journalists to plant false stories.
Bush and Blair murdered one and a half million people in Iraq. They did it based on charges that they knew were not true. They lied to parliament, to congress, and to their own people. A British parliamentary enquiry has already come to that conclusion. And, in fact, the truth was known almost from the start. (This, by the way, was done by the leaders of two of those nice democracies which are so very superior to dictatorships.)

Now, there will be an enquiry in the U.S. to focus on Bush. He'll be found guilty. That's a slam dunk. But nothing will happen to him in the democratic U.S.
More about the lying press.

Of course, not all news media lie. For example, today's irving press says we had a power failure  two nights ago. And we did. I saw it. Always trust the Truthful Times and Transcript of new Brunswick.
And let's not kid ourselves that Canadian politics are different from American politics.
The U.S. senate (unnoticed by the irving press) has passed a bill making it illegal to criticize Jews or Israel. (It calls such criticism anti-semitic. Evidently, the U.S. senate doesn't know that most arabs are semites. And it doesn't know that European Jews are not semites.)

This bill means it is racist now to criticize anything  Jews do. But that is not what racist means. Lots of Jews criticize other Jews and Israel. They aren't racist. They're disagreeing - and disagreement is not racism.
Standing Rock is, quite likely, not just another protest to be dismissed. It may well turn out to be a major rising against all that has gone wrong with the U.S. (and with Canada, but not noticed here.)

Standing Rock is developing into a protest not just about a pipeline.  It's also about the general subservience to big money that is constantly shown by government. It's about the fundamental neglect of the needs of the American people. It's about the growth of poverty, The constant and abrasive presence of greed.

Trump  opened the gates to this with his leadership campaign that sought out the angry. But that anger is taking on a sharper focus. And it will get sharper still as Trump fails to deliver on the growing realization that the anger is about social issues - not about Trump's racism.

And, now as "pipeline" Trudeau blows away confidence that many people had in him, we may see similar reactions in Canada.
Don't pay any attention to this story about climate change in the Arctic. I'm sure that if there were any problem, the irving press would tell us.

And trust western political leadership to make sure there is no threat.

I wonder how much New Brunswick has spent to encourage fossil fuel consumption. I wonder if that might explain some of our provincial overspending.
In electing little boy George Bush, the American people created a chaos in a middle east that had been relatively quiet. Iraq, torn apart by local squabbles is unlikely to know peace again for a very long long. The same is true of Libya and Syria.The Kurds have become a major problem that our news rarely mentions. Mixed up in all of this, and overlapping it, is a Turkey  that has emerged as yet another source of violence and uncertainty in the region.

Closer to home is the growing realization that we face a threat - and it may not be the usual enemies. It may be our own leaders both political and economic.

Trump's election methods triggered an explosion of anger by Americans. But this isn't the end of it. We are going to see more anger as it sinks in that the people to be angry at may not be the ones fingered by Trump.

And that could well provoke a parallel movement in Canada.

At the same time we face enormous and urgent problems that our ruling classes don't care about. They are programmed to understand only the making of money. A climate breakdown is happening. It needs action - now. We aren't getting it Nor are we going to so long as the greedy have power.

We are facing a crisis in wealth distribution as the already wealthy increase their's while our share lessens.

Related to that, we are facing a crisis in employment as automation replaces people in the world place. But how to deal with that is barely even at the discussion stage.

We have urgent matters in many areas to deal with. But we are governed, for the most part, by politicians who do nothing about them because they are servants of those who understand only profits. We are now at the stage of protest. The response, as always and as at Standing Rock, is violence by the state to please the wealthy.  We're also going to see continuing violence in spying, criminalizing dissent......

....and in the end it won't work. We are following a course that can only lead to breakdown, to enormous loss of life, to enormous suffering - and to extinction.
Next time you're at the Irving Chapel, ask the rented preacher to speak on this. With special music.

1 comment:

  1. It has been your column which got me reading articles in the alternative press. Engrossed study has eventually led me to the conclusion that a lot of it is underdeveloped logical tripe, particularly the US stuff authored of course by Americans who cannot really exorcise the America-centric-ness of their opinions. The US is still the only place that counts to them and a world viewpoint is always missing, unless they are first generation citizens. PC Roberts has swung himself from branch to branch of the barking-mad tree in the last nine months, and the rest of the commentators are lightweights. I get bored putting on my US spectacles to read US opinion - they all still really think they are part of the "exceptional" nation and fulminate accordingly. Of the world commentators, Vlychek seems to be off in a socialist dreamworld somewhere or other that is so pure as to be both unattainable and unexplainable in normal words.

    I have come to really appreciate a mere three authors: T P Wilkinson, K J Noh and the rather amazingly productive Binoy Kampmark.

    These writers are to be found regularly on

    Wilkinson is a history professor from the UK who seems to have settled down in Germany, and even his history text reviews are erudite and fascinating. His recent summing up of Castro is the best I've read. Even the footnotes are worth reading, for goodness sake.

    A quick google will turn up dozens of his wry commentaries. Since he knows his history, we get no instant expertise of the modern writers who think they know it all but betray constantly their lack of long term historical knowledge.

    K J Noh wrote the only decent piece on The South China Sea squabble:

    Kampmark from Australia just writes straightforward stuff on current events with little rancour and is on as well.