Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 31: The truth we have not learned.

The Fertile Crescent is a great arc of land that stretches from Yemen through the Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Egypt. Twelve thousand years ago, it was the birthplace of all civilizations in this world. And the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Not surprisingly, there are great similarities between these religions. Not surprisingly, the various religious groups prefer not to see their similarities but to poke away at their differences.

This region is the one referred to in The Bible as the Garden of Eden. However, the expulsion may have been the result of changing climate, weakening food production, and over-population - not to mention thousands of years of highly destructive wars, just like the ones we have thrust on the region. And so, many thousands of years ago, there began the long and desperate flights of refugees into Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Those pressures of food, changing environment, and over-population continue to this day all over the world. Over the thousands of years, the Fertile Crescent has become sand and rock and drying, cracked fields. We know what can happen. We know from 12,000 years of the history of the Fertile Crescent. We know what can happen. We are also seeing it in Canada and the U.S. today.

Norbert Cunningham, this is not a problem that can be solved by the big business world, no matter how wise their rumps that sink into upholstered chairs may be. Far from seeking answers, big business hasn't shown any interest even in looking at the problems.

Where are its studies of what will happen to our farmlands, our forests, our wildlife, our sea levels? We live in a city designed for automobiles. Can we still be doing that in twenty years? Up to 1945, Moncton was designed for a walking world.  Each house had its own lot And that was fine because eveything was close enough to walk to.

Big cities moved to public transit in the late nineteenth century. Most had no other form of transportation. Then, about the same time, came the railway suburb. One could live in a cottage within walking distance of a train station and have lawns and back yards.But that was only for the well-off. The rest, in the cities, had to live in tightly-packed row houses to be in easy reach of shops, and of public transit. But Moncton was then too small to need such restrictions.
Then, after 1945, came the city of cars. That greatly increased the number of sprawling suburbs, each cottage with its own lawn and driveway... A very small city like Moncton could get away with simply maintaining its old style of urban planning and sprawl. And public transit could remain an expensive sideshow.
But will this still work in 20 years? Forty years? And will the parking lot at the Mall still be above water? And the causeway to Riverview?

Where is the planning? So far, all  I have seen is yesterday's editorial that we should speed up climate change by burning more fossil fuel.

What are the changes we should plan for in the fishery? in plant and animal life? So far, what has been done is less than nothing. We haven't yet even made any effort to determine what we're dealing with.
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Almost all of section A news is chatter. There are two items on page 1 that might be important. But I don't know. They aren't written as news stories. They're written as press releases, which means we only get one side of the story.
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The editorial tells us that the most important project for the future of Moncton is the new hockey rink/events centre. This is nonsense. If this were a sure fire money winner, only a fool could believe the big, private money in this province would allow the government to build it and to get all those profits.

Besides, how can the editor define this as the most important project for the city when the city doesn't even have a basic plan for what it needs?

Norbet has nothing to say. His column seems to say, vaguely. that both Liberals and Conservatives in New Brunswick have to work on their political acts. Obviously,  his assumption is that these are the only  parties worth mentioning. Anyway,  we don't need more political gimmicks to win elections. What we need is parties that base their policies on principles. And we need a newspaper that tells us what's going on. Without that, we cannot vote intelligently and we cannot, in any real sense, be a democracy.

Rod Allen, again, treats us to his adolescent wit.

Justin Ryan writes on the importance of showing kindness to refugees. He's done it before. But it's worth repeating. We have to remember that we are all refugees - every human on this earth is a refugee. It's been going on for 25,000 years.
Alec Bruce makes an unkind, but quite accurate, statement about the failure of our universities to teach people how to think. I'll add just a bit to that. Most academics don't have a clue how to teach anything - and they don't care.  Academic reputation comes from research, not from teaching. And, oh, academics lust for reputation. To add to that burden, they increasingly rely on the wealthy for donations. And the wealthy are not much interested in thinking, either.
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One of the biggest stories in Canada and World is about New Brunswick. "Study critical of region's continuous reflex to raise taxes." It's a story that asks no questions. It just says what it was told to say by the report. And the report is by.....? The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, of course.

And the story, as usual, doesn't bother to tell us that AIMS is a propaganda front which was created by, among others, the Irvings.

Anyway, not to worry. I'd like to see some evidence first that the Irvings even pay taxes.

Russia and the U.S. have come to an agreement to work together against ISIS. But that wasn't important enough for the news editor at the Irving press. In fact, there's nothing of importance in the whole of Section B. I guess Mr. Irving doesn't want us to worry.
Or to think.
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One of the stories missing from Irving press is the one of how an Israeli military officer took out his pistol, walked over to a wounded Palestinian who lay unarmed and wounded on the ground - and shot him in the head. He was charged with murder, which was soon reduced to manslaughter. A UN spokesman says the charge should be re-entered as murder. The leader of the Israeli opposition says he should be free with no charges. I think they're all wrong. I also think this is an important story.

http://www.aljazeera.com/

The Irving press hasn't bothered to mention the story. That's too bad because this is one that could help to explain changes that have happened in warfare.
Most humans don't like to kill each other. In many of the worst wars of the last two centuries, at least, soldiers deliberately fired over the heads of enemies, or fired muskets with just powder in them, or have simply refused to fire at all. At the battle of Gettysburg in the U.S. civil war, it is possible that as many as 90% on each side avoided shooting at the enemy.  This held true in both world wars - and on both sides.

Something had to be done.

And so it was that basic military training became a training in having contempt for others. A starting point was teaching contempt for women. (The high incidence of sexual attacks within armies in recent years is not a coincidence.) In most armies, men are taught to see women as things to be used, and discarded.) They are steeped in contempt for their likely enemies who become subhuman. They are taught to abandon the standards of their families and their religions by being submerged in a world that consists only of their military comrades, of conformity with them, and obedience to the army. And there's much more.

The job can be done in a matter of weeks. And it works. Killing has risen very satisfactorily. ( So has rape and killing of civilians, including children.) Mind you, there is a problem in this. It is almost certainly related to the great rise in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that affects so many soldiers. Added to the natural strain of combat, the realization that they have killed people can cause PTSD for a lifetime. And that realization can sink home even many years later.
I well remember the RCAF bomber pilot (WW2) who approached me after I had spoken about the deliberate and indiscriminate killing of civilians by our air forces in that war. He said he had not done that, and hated to hear these stories that he had. Then, in tears, he told me how his grandson had said, "Did you really kill all those children, grandpa?"

Actually, he had. He told me some of the raids he had been on. These were raids designed to kill civilians. I think he knew that. But he couldn't face it. And I would guess he never recovered from it.

But I think he was also right. He was not to blame for all those killings. We were. We still are. Notice we never got any significant reports on who we bombed in Libya, Iraq, and Syria? And nobody has asked for any.

The Israeli officer who shot the helpless civilian is almost certainly a product of that training.

Then there's the reality  that Israeli thinking has been profoundly affected by what was done to them by the Naziis, and that we (Canada, the US, and others) ignored until well after the war. And that has resulted in a Jewish Israel that parted a long way from the principles of Judaism. It has been taught hatred and a willingness to kill, abuse, dehumanize, starve Palestinians, and steal their land.
There are a lot of people to be blamed for the shooting of a wounded and helpless Palestinian. So I wouldn't rush to lay all the blame on an Israeli military officer.
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Below is a two-part series on the state of American democracy. What's here is true enough. But it's very, very gentle. The reality is that nothing is happening to American democracy. That's because it ceased to exist long ago.

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2016/03/happening-american-democracy-160323094609454.html

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2016/03/voters-rights-happening-american-democracy-160330130557702.html
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A reader has informed me that Information Clearing House has not appeared for some days because publisher Tom Feeley suffered a stroke. Fortunately, it was not a major one.  We wish him a speedy recovery.
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A reader has sent me a story in a site that is new to me. As I check through its material, it seems to me to be pretty competent. This  story is about a prolonged attack on a hospital by a U.S. gunship. I've been following this story - and what this site says corresponds with what I already knew. This could be a good one.

http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/815-kunduz-killers-go-free.html
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And here's a story about the horror that Honduras has become as the result of the replacement of the old government with a new one, courtesy of Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama. As a result, mining companies have been allowed to swarm into Honduras, creating massive environmental destruction. Murder (commonly by the U.S.-backed government) is at the highest rate in the world. And it's quite possible, even likely, that some of those mining companies are Canadian, with stocks held by some of the  'best' families in the country.

http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/814-death-in-honduras-the-coup-hillary-clinton-and-the-killing-of-berta-caceres.html
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 30: The news is bunk

After I finished yesterday's blog, I came across a stunning poll result. Sixty percent of adult Americans believe that the U.S. army uncovered weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And a similar percentage thought that the U.S. won the Iraq  war.

Now, I know such polls are rarely as accurate as they claim to be. But even if the true figure is somewhat less, even if it's a good deal less,  this is stunning. And it tells us a great deal about the state of privately-owned journalism in North America. (Not just the U.S.).

Almost every adult North American  has access to a  hundred or more TV channels, radio stations, newspapers and computer sites that are our major sources to get the news. One would think we'd be the best-informed people in human history. But, apparently, that's not so.

Let's look at the weapons of mass destruction first. Did you ever hear the term 'weapons of mass destruction' before the Iraq war? I didn't. I heard of nuclear weapons, poison gas, carpet bombing. But never of 'weapons of mass destruction'. What does it mean?

Nobody ever said what it meant. That's because it was a propaganda word, a fear word. Mass destruction could refer to any weapon at all, perhaps starting with the machine gun of over a century ago. In fact, almost every army in the world for the past century and more has used weapons of mass destruction. Our news media will brag about our latest weapons of mass destruction even as we self-righteously denounce others for having them - even as we don't know what they are.

(Incidentally, Iraq did have some poison gas. It was supplied to it by the U.S. for its war against Iran.)

It should have been obvious to everyone from the start that they were being conned into a war. Nobody ever  found any weapons of mass destruction (except for the usual ones that all armies have.)  Bush and Blair lied to us in order to start a war that killed over a million people. Even journalists have known for a long time that it was all lies.

But 60% of the American adult population doesn't know that.

What does that tell you about our North American news media? More specifically, what does it tell you about the Irving press.?

Bush and Blair lied. They murdered over a million people. They are, by any definition I can think of, war criminals. They are what we hanged at Nuremberg.
So what was the war really about? It was about using Iraq as a base for an American attack on Iran. That's why the U.S. spent billions on an embassy-fortress in Baghdad. It was the biggest and most expensive embassy in the world. That's why they kept a large army in Iraq AFTER Hussein was hanged. And that takes us to the other belief - that the US won the war in Iraq.

No, it didn't.

Oh, it did destroy the Iraq army - which was no longer a threat to anybody, anyway. And it hanged Hussein. But that's not why the war was fought. It was fought  to provide a base for the attack on Iran. And the purpose of that would be to cut off the supply of Iranian oil to Russia and China.

But the great embassy-fortress in Baghdad was abandoned because the US was chased out of Iraq by the Iraqi people. That's what's called losing a war.
The U.S., thanks to ISIS, is grudgingly accepted in part of Iraq now. And, before leaving, it did manage to create a puppet 'democracy' . It's even possible it's going to take another stab at Iran. Lately, the U.S. is filling the news with stories that Iran has - gasp - missiles. Horrors! (Can you name any country in the world that doesn't have missiles?)

The U.S. might well be thinking of invading Iran. But it's hard to imagine they will be doing it from Iraq.

All of this information has been widely available for years. At least some of it should be available by common sense. But how much of it have you seen in the mainstream North American news media?

Incidentally, there was no reason at all for the the other losing war in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan government had offered to arrest Osama bin Laden, and send him to an international court if they could be supplied with some evidence which, under international law, was the way to do it. The U.S. used that as its excuse to invade Afghanistan - and our private news media never made a peep that this was no reason at all for an invasion. (Anyway, that wasn't the real reason for the invasion.)

And that is why Canadians were sent to die in Afghanistan, to give a facade of international anger at the evil behaviour of Afghanistan. And that war, too, has been lost, and worse than lost. But you won't find any of this in most of the private news media - and certainly not in the Irving press.

Those who died in Afghanistan will be remembered, as they should be, on Nov. 11.  But will there be anyone at the ceremony with the integrity to say how ashamed we should be for sending them to die?

The decline, the propaganda, and the lying  of our private news media is a tragedy that leads to greater tragedies.   One of them is today's editorial in the Irving press.
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Even Norbert has grasped how serious and immediate the problem of burning fossil fuel is. We have very little time to get it under control - if, indeed, it can be brought under control. Nor do we have any idea whether Canada, itself, will be a livable place. We're nowhere close to understanding  how it will affect our land, our water, our wildlife, our insects, our vegetation - all those things that life depends on. Even here in Moncton, no thought whatever has been given   to the possible impact of climate change in this city.

Climate change is going to create refugees all over the world. A great many of them will be from the U.S. and  Canada. We can't handle the refugee crisis from the middle east. And this one will almost certainly be many, many times greater.
And we get a brainless editorial about burning more of the stuff to help reopen the Picadilly Mine. And this seems to reflect a level of brainlessness that goes right up to the ownership of this paper. The destruction of us common folks will also (but the rich will never believe this) destroy the rich, too.      
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Norbert is back on his old beat. Governments, he says, do not create jobs. (He also raises a moral aspect. Should they create jobs?   I don't know why he asks that - because he never deals with it.)

Norbert, open  your sparkling little eyes. Governments in New Brunswick don't create jobs because they're not the ones who run government. The wealthy do.  They always have. And the wealthy are not interested in creating jobs because jobs cost money. Sometimes, they have to create jobs; but they do it as cheaply as possible. More often, they destroy jobs to use cheap labour in other countries. That's what free trade is all about.

And, regularly, the wealthy destroy jobs by their sheer incompetence. That's what 1929 and the dirty thirties  were about. It was government, not private business, that got us out of that one - with the help of a war. And we have been living in uncertain economic times  because of corporate incompetence and abuse of power for some years now. And corporate bosses have steadily become richer while they make us poorer.

Brian Cormier has his usual idea of a commentary. It's headline should be. "Ain't nuthin' happenin', folks. Go back to sleep."

Dr. Tom Barry, regional chief of medical staff  with Horizon Health has what might be a good one. But I can't tell. The topic is so broad, so vague, and so weak in examples that it comes close to the type of editorial that ends - something must be done!

I would suggest another try at this one - with the advice of a writer.

Alec Bruce has a very sensible column on climate change. The weakness is it might be too late for the changes he suggests.

For a real, wake-up call, try this article from the New Yorker.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/21/the-siege-of-miami  
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There's very little about Canada in the Canada&World Section. And virtually nothing about the World.

The federal Libeals are bringing in a bill that would prevent unions from demanding 'unaffordable' conditions. An who will decide what's 'unaffordable'? Well, the government, in some form,   will. And who will guide the government's view of what is unaffordable? Well, that would be the corporations who fund elections for the right kind of people.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion has refused to push for nuclear disarmament. He says it's not a good time. And he's right. It he tried any such thing, he'd get spanked on his bare bottom by the U.S.

The unions are backing Mulcair to continue as leader of the NDP. That's bad news.

I support unions in their primary work of improving salaries and working conditions. But I also remember well how they destroyed the NDP from the its beginnings out of the old CCF.It is the unions that made it an imitation of the Liberal party - and maybe even the Conservatives. That was the price the unions levelled for donating funds to the CCF. The result is a party that no longer offers anything different from the others.

The same is true of Mulcair. We have met. I liked him. He's a nice guy, and a very intelligent one. But his political thinking is very close to that of a Trudeau.
The NDP needs fundamental change. It needs to go back to principles on which the  CCF was founded.
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Here's a story I'm just catching up on. CBC had a huge building in Montreal. I remember being at the opening because I was on air for CBC at the time. The speaker was Pierre Trudeau. The staff in attendance was both French and English, with the French side well known to be avid separatists.

Trudeau stepped up to the microphone. His lips moved. But we heard no sound. Trudeau grinned, raised his arms to the crowd, and shouted "La guerre!. La Guerre!"  (War! War!)

Laughter broke the tension, and the sound system went on.

Now, the official announcement is that the building is too run down, and too expensive to repair. The CBC has been instructed by its board to sell it, and to lease (but not build) a smaller one. As I read this, I thought of Moncton High which was too expensive to repair but, now, miraculously, not too expensive to repair.

I note, too the board of directors, largely made up of the corporate world, refuses to say what the repairs would have cost or what fitting up the leased building would cost.

Then I thought of Moncton CBC whose building  was sold, with the studios  moving to a leased and smaller space.

And, I note in the story that the Montreal CBC building which supposedly was too expansive to repair is being bought by  some of Montreal's biggest moneymen with close, government connections.

What's happening? We're being ripped off by the usual billionaires who have all the Liberals and Conservatives in their pockets. The next step will be to privatize the CBC. depriving us of the last, really professional news service in Canada.
So put your faith in Norbert Cunningham and the editors of the Irving press. We are seeing the future. And they are it.

http://renx.ca/cbcradio-canada-downsizing-and-developing-in-montreal/
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The site for Information Clearing house has not had anything new in almost a week. This  has happened before. It usually means its computer system has been disabled by government and/or private agents.
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Reports now say that sea level are rising far more quickly that expected. It also suggests that it could force the abandonment of some major cities within decades. But, as the Irving editorial says, we really gotto burn from fossil fuel. It'll create jobs.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/30/sea-levels-set-to-rise-far-more-rapidly-than-expected
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Corruption and lying in the news media has a long history. Here's one about Associated Press, an agency which appears commonly in the Irving press.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/30/associated-press-cooperation-nazis-revealed-germany-harriet-scharnberg
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And here's a story so astonishing it's hard to believe how even an Irving editor could miss is. It's too early to speculate on what it means. But it's undeniably important.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/30/russia-and-us-planning-military-coordination-against-isis-in-syria
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An interesting point about the story below is that it tells of how the U.S. behaves toward people in the Caribbean and Latin America. But none of those incidents ever made the Irving press. And, oh, wouldn't it be interesting to find out if any Irvings have major investments in mining in places like Latin America?

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/03/hillary-clinton-faux-feminism-160328105225310.html
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A reader sent the following commentary to me. I don't agree with it. I think the author is more than a little gilb and superficial and, certainly, does not know much about the hitory of t he middle east (or Ukraine). However, we should look even at those items we disagree with - and it's worth noting that wars are not always good guys against bad guys. Sometimes, the bad guys are on both sides. I have no doubt that ISIS is unspeakably cruel. But we should remember it was the Christians in the US who stood behind their government when it carried out the biggest torture operations in history. It was also Christian, for the most part, who were the only people ever to use  nuclear bombs in war.Adolf Hitler was a Christian. Christian chaplains served in his armies.

It was also Christians who destroyed native people and stole their land all over the world.

Yes, Islamic ideologies should be examined. So should Christian ones. So should the Judaic ones as proclaimed by Israel.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/west-not-responsible-jihadist-violence-islamist-ideology-1552069
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     The same reader also sent me a very powerful commentary.
We all have an illusion that there is something special that makes us Canadian. But it's worth remembering that we are all refugees. Even our native peoples are  refugees from lands that could no longer support them.     My mother was a refugee from the misery and poverty that was the Scotland of her childhood. My French, many times great-grandfather fled a France that offered no hope for the poor. Acadians were here for the same reason. There were the United Empire Loyalists, both Black and White, who fled the American revolution. I grew up in a district mostly French. But the children I met in school were European Jews, Italians, Syrians, Poles - and I would later teach children from just about every country on earth. And they were almost all refugees.

The idea that we all have a common, Canadian culture is absurd. Every group of us refugees has elements of culture derived from ancestry, social class, religious beliefs. level of education....And nobody I've ever heard or read could define the elements of the culture he or she claimed to have.

The U.S. been big on the notion that there is an American culture. That flowered in the campaign against unAmericanism. That is all rubbish. Barrack Obama has very little in common with the Blacks - or the whites - who sleep on the streets of Los Angeles.

As a Canadian-born guy raised in the United Church of Canada, my best friend at teachers' college was an Italian-born guy who became a Pentecostal missionary in Africa. It never occured to us we had different cultures.

The west frets over its middle east refugees. and we hear claims they will detract from our culture - the one that we don't know what it is. We are, like every nation in human history, a mixture of elements from various 'cultures'. We have been for many thousands of years. Get used to it because there's a lot more mixing to come.    

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/bring-refugee-crisis-europe-middle-east-needs-it-126364883

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March 19: The Irrational Norbert Cunningham


I  use the word irrational as a sort of kindness - though that makes me something of a hypocrite because I don't feel any kindness.                                                    
Norbert Cunningham has a column today in which he admits that David Suzuki was  right all along.  Climate change is happening, and it's happening even faster than  Suzuki thought. In other words, Norbert and his newspaper have been wrong every step of the way. And his gods in the oil industry have been misleading us into disaster to keep their profits up. And you know what?

It's all David Suzuki's fault.

Yes, Norbert spews venom on him.  He says Suzuki fell for the propaganda of those ignorant environmentalists; apparently, they were wrong even though Norbert admits they were right. Then he says Suzuki should have   confined himself to research instead of telling us what was happening. Let's see, now. He warned us of a disaster, and that was wrong. He should have just kept studying it and saying nothing.  He ridicules other scientists, too, for telling people what was happening instead of just buckling down to research. This is followed by the inane comment that Suzuki simply fell in line with 'prevailing environmental ideology'.

Norbert,  either he was right in his research or he fell in line with a wacky 'ideology'. It can't be both. Oh, and CBC, that awful news service not nearly in a class with the Irving press, went overboard in praising him.

The column is wildly irrational , hate-filled, ignorant...and it offers not a word of criticism  of the oil barons who have been lying to us for decades about climate change. Then he quotes some of the scientific reading he has done that he finds reliable. Norbert, you have not the faintest capacity to understand or to judge the quality of scientific research in anything.  

I have never before seen a commentary as irrational and contemptible as this one. And I really wonder about - how shall I put it? - the disorderly nature of Norbert's thought processes.

There's another gripping editorial about how food trucks will revolutionize the liveliness of downtown Moncton. I'm glad to hear it. If there's one major issue this world has to come to grips with, it's the liveliness of Moncton's downtown.
The Commentary page has a gem by Bruce Fitch, leader of the provincial conservatives. It seems we really, really need more of that greenhouse gas that is causinig climate change. Oil! More oil!

Then there's a commentary on doctor-assisted suicide. I  don't have an opinion on this because, among other things, I would not want to put doctors in the position of having to take a life. But I can also understand the wish of a patient to die. But I must disagree with one comment of t he writers - that we deplore killing in a war. Like hell we do. We cheer killing in a war. We love it when western movies and TV shows end up with piles of bodies. Think Clint Eastwood. Think the popularity of American Sniper. Where was the mourning for the millions killed in Vietnam, Libya, Guatemala, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya....?

Alec Bruce has a column of pure dynamite - good dynamite. This could well be the best and most important column ever to appear in this paper. In effect, this says that capitalism has to be brought under control, that uncontrolled it turns into a greed that is destructive of our own society - and of our own economy including, in the end, of the leading capitalists whose greed has led to destruction.

We must raise general income levels. We must put a lid on $8 million dollar a year executives. We must make the very weatlhy pay their taxes. If we don't, then ours is a lose-lose society.

The rest of section A should be kept as toilet paper for masochists.
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The biggest story in Canada&World is "Brussels attack victims came from around world."

Well, that certainly explains a lot.
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Finally, the Life section has a very useful column on mental illness. especially among children, in our schools. This is by Jana Giles, the student editor for the paper.
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We have not yet recognized the scale of the disasters that were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both, at immense cost, were disasters in cost and results and, of course, of millions of lives lost. The immediate losers were the U.S., Britain, and Canada. Not only did they alienate most of the world, but the cost of those wars has been a major factor in the shift of our national wealth from almost all of us to the very rich.

As for Iraq and Afghanistan, they won the wars but at the cost of massive deaths, deep poverty, social disorder, and the loss of decades of social and national progress, a loss that has not yet even begun recovery - and may never begin it.
The U.S., seemingly slow to learn, plunged into another disaster when it interfered in Syria and played boy scout secret operations by funding "terrorist" groups  to interfere as well. If we ever get out of this mess we have created, it may well be Putin's intervention that has saved us from our own idiocies.
In any case, there's more to come. Canada has, with extreme foolishness, committed us to join in the Ameerican cowboy adventures in the region. It is likely that Israel intends in the very near future to expel the people of Palestine, and to annex the whole country.

In the short run, it can get away with this - if only because nobody is going to attack an Israel which has a large nuclear arsenal. But Pakistan, India and North Korea long ago got nuclear savvy without permission. It would be no great challenge for Arab countries to get it. What Israel needed to do starting 68 years ago was to come to terms with its neighbours. Instead, it pinned its hopes on U.S. support. That support is weakening - and it's going to get a lot weaker.
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A reader sent me a source I  haven't seen before. It looks promising. And it has something to say about our very selective sympathies.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/maintaining-perspective-after-brussels-attacks-318673054

Here's another from the same source.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/brussels-just-proved-once-and-all-war-terror-has-failed-us-spectacularly-2054338702
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Another reader sent me the story below. al Jazeera is closing its American cable service. And that's a real loss because most North American news media are at least half lies. Fox is only worst of a very bad lot. So the Russians are thinking of filling that gap with an American service called RT.

I've seen quite a bit of RT. It's not in a class with al Jazeera. But it's a cut above virtually all news media in North America.

To read this story, click the URL below, and scroll down on the left to "Can a Russian funded cable network actually promote a free press in the U.S.?

https://theconversation.com/us

Actually, it's worth hanging in, and reading most of this site.
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The Northwest Passage is claimed by Canada. The U.S. has refused to recognize that claim. Now, read the story below, and guess how long it will take for the heat to be on Canada to drop its claim.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/28/us-canada-arctic-cruise-ship-titanic-emergency-training-coast-guard
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We are facing crises that need attention - and now. We are facing climate disaster, economic disaster due to mindless greed, global social disasters. (The European refugee crunch   is a very mild taste of social disasters to come. What do you think will happen as rising oceans  combined with drought start driving more millions out of their homelands.) And to deal with this, we have governments so accustomed to serving only the wealthy that that most have become counterproductive.

What we're watching in the U.S. and Europe is 'democracies' turning against their traditional political leadershp. Most people don't yet know why they're doing it; but it's happening. We're seeing levels of violence and intimidation, especially in the U.S. and Europe, that can only get worse - and with unpredictable results.
Starting from home in New Brunswick, we can expect no guidance from either the Liberals or the Conservatives. They're on the other side. That's also true at the federal level.

The Greens are too limited in their interests. And the NDP has almost destroyed itself as a useful party.

Both our governments and our economic system have become destructive and self-destructive. Somehow, we have to start now in remaking how we see ourselves and our world. New Brunswick, in particular, has to crawl its way out of the nineteenth century. It has to develop the courage to speak openly, to have opinions, to discuss them with others. In general, New Brunswick has to grow up.  As it is, we are our own worst enemies.

The direction we're going in can lead only to poverty, crime, and some very serious violence raging from social disorder to nuclear war. We have to grow up, and fast.

As a sidenote, it's interesting to see how infuriated the American press is about terrorist attacks. The is a fury coming from the country that for generations has killed more civilians than any other country in the world. And the American people actually buy this, and are genuinely and with Christian fervour, furious at terrorists. The also demand that people attending political debates should be allowed to carry guns.

Follow the debates. This isn't ignorance. This is insanity.

And Trudeau has committed us to a role in Syria.



Monday, March 28, 2016

March 28: there's distasteful--and there's disgusting.

de Adder, who does cartoons for the editorial page of the Irving press, is a fine artist. He is weaker as a political cartoonist.  And, in today's cartoon, he is distasteful.

Manneken Pis is a small, bronze statue of a little boy urinating into a small basin at his feet. It stands in Brussels. And that is de Adder's cartoon for the day. Oh, the little boy is urinating onto a terrorist.

I have no objection to a cartoon of a little boy urinating. (I know they do it, and even  have a memory of being a little boy and doing it.) My objection is that this has nothing to do with the terror that struck Belgium or with the Belgian reaction to it. Belgium is not dismissively urinating on the people who created that terror. On the contrary, it is reacting as a people in terror will do, by going into panic and filling the streets with howling racists looking for the blood of all Muslims - almost all of whom had nothing to with this. Belgium is not reacting dismissively. Quite the contrary, it is plunging into a racist pit that we have not seen since 1945.

And that isn't funny at all.

When the U.S. indiscriminately killed men, women and children by the millions in Vietnam with carpet bombing and agent orange and naptha, was there a cartoon of an Vietnamese child urinating on Americans? And where was the cartoon when the Americans, British (and Canadians) were killing Afghani and Libyans?

And wouldn't it have been cute to have a cartoon of an American child urinating on the bodies of over a million Iraqi men,women and children?

Where was the cartoon when troops of the U.S., Guatemala (and Israel) were murdering over 200,000 civilians in   Guatemala - including a great many clergy, nuns and brothers? Where was the cartoon when a New Brunswicker, Raoul Leger of Buctouche was murdered in that mass killing? Hell, the Irving press never even mentioned it at the time - and it still  hasn't.

A good political cartoon tells a truth that other forms of the media have missed. This one doesn't tell a truth of any sort. It tells of a light-hearted Belgian people dismissing terrorism  with a shot of urine. That is not what happened.
In fact, what happened is a small group of terrorists urinated on Belgium. And Belgium is reacting, I suspect, exactly as the terrorists wanted them to - in panic and hatred and racism. And, if this panic continues, Europe and the world are going to pay one hell of a price,  even bigger than the price we paid when Germany acted like this.

Oh, I do have a suggestion for that cartoon, though. Make it a cartoon of that little, Belgian boy urinating over the millions of people in the Congo impovershed, beaten, murdered -  by poor, little Belgium so it could loot their resources. That was going on into the 1950s. And it's still going on under Belgian, British, America and Canadian billionaires. You can read about it in Joseph Conrad's novel, "Heart of Darkness".

But I don't think anybody at Irving press reads books.
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There is nothing of substance in Section A news. The most interesting item is on page one - a photo of a model railway setup. And it is impressive.
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There's nothing of substance on the Opinion page. Norbert moans about the provincial economy and its budget and, as usual, without a single mention of the I----- word. Irving is far the wealthiest man in the province. We also, unless we are deaf and blind, know that his is a powerful  voice in the government. How is it possible to discuss the provincial economy without mentioning Irving?
What is the effect of his influence in government? What taxes does he pay? Are there taxes he doesn't pay? How much is the provincial budget designed to serve his interests? But good luck on finding the name Irving anywhere in an Irving paper - unless, of course, he is inducted into another hall of fame.

The lead commentary is, over half of it, about a football player. Above it is a big photo of a football player so we can know what a football player looks like.  Over half way through, we are suddenly told the commentary isn't about football. No, it's about how governments should be accountable to the public. And that is a concept that is neither new nor - nor anything. It's just trite and vague.

Steve Malloy offers some common sense about the job situation in the province. He doesn't have an answer. But he does address some of the fundamental causes, and that's a start.

Alec Bruce, again, doesn't really have a comment about anything.
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The front page of section B, Canada&World. Has a big photo of a Nazi riot in Brussels. Notice the man on the middle, right side of the photo. He's not a cute, little boy urinating on anybody. He's a raging Nazi.

At the bottom of the page is a photo of searchers after they had found the body of two-year old Chase Martens of Manitoba. For some reason, the story of this search had gripped me from the start. When his body was discovered, drowned, I felt as though it had happened to a child of mine.

I'm not sure why. I wonder how many others felt this way.

In general, there's close to  nothing of Canada,  and less of the world, in the four, miserable pages of Section B. The one story worth a read is the one about this year being the hundredth anniversary of the 'Easter Rising' in Dublin Ireland, the rising that eventually led to independence from Britain. We don't hear much about that rebellion. But it's a sharp reminder of the arrogance and cruelty of rule by an imperial power. (The people of Cuba and Haiti and Puerto Rico and Guatemala and India and China and Congo could tell us something about that.)
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The Guardian has reprinted an old story it had on the torture of prisoners. It probably never made your local paper.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/09/cia-torture-methods-waterboarding-sleep-deprivation

And here's a comment on it.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/28/cia-naked-photos-scandal-wake-up-call-americans

And, if the Irving press ignores most of the world, The Guardian doesn't ignore even Canada.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/26/canada-justice-system-ghomeshi-acquittal-sexual-assault-allegations-approach
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A good source I  have long neglected (due to my reliance on the web) is "Monitor" by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It's a bi-monthly publication with its head office at

CCPA@POLICYALTERNATIVES.CA
There's also TWITTER@CCPA
and
FACEBOOK.COM/POLICYALTERNATIVES

The March/April edition has a few interesting comments  about the Trans-Pacific  Partnership that the federal Liberals will be pushing for. Under its terms, we would have to pay pharmaceutical companies huge sums for delays in approving drugs. Huge, as in $636 million a year.

It will also make it extremely expensive, and probably impossible, for us to introduce new medicare plans -- like pharmacare.

This trade deal will effectively destroy our control over our own country. This is what free trade was designed to do from the start. The TPP will be its greatest triumph - handing over control of all its countries to big business.

There is also a note that Canada's military preparedness for peacekeeping has all but disappeared. Peacekeeping was probably the greatest triumph of our foreign policy from 1945 to the present day. It was what gave Canada stature at the UN. But we've thrown all that away. Our military can now act only as a servant to the American military. That's not going to do us or the world any good.

On the good news side, there's a note that Canada's CEOs won't be standing at soup kitchens. 100 of them, by the first work day of the year, will have made an average $48,636 BY LUNCH. Their average worker will work the whole year to make that much.

The average yearly pay  for those CEOs is $8.96 million. (How much do you make? Isn't it generous of us to have a minimum wage?)  I guess greed pays.
And don't worry about their tax bills. Monitor has a review of Gabriel Zucman's "The Hiddern Wealth of Nations." It's about tax havens (which, of course, no New Brunswicker would ever resort to). Canadians wealth hidden away is estimated at $300 billion dollars. Maybe you should read this book, Norbert.
There's also a review of "Class War" by Metan Erikson, a study of how big business (like Enbridge) has been buying off universities - and some professors. I can speak with some assurance of that. I was once approached by people from the oil industry to give talks and do some writing about how oil is good for us.
Of course, that could never happen in New Brunswick.

Oh, I should mention it also has a review of a Gwynne Dyer book I must read. It's called 'ISIS, Terror, and today's Middle East'. We have alowed ourselves to be stampeded by a relatively small group of people in a movement largely restricted to Arabs - and to a small minority even of them. But their system of terrorism which requires few people is actually doing more damage than our system of terrorism that costs trillions and has killed millions. It is also setting us up for a showdown with the whole Muslim world, a showdown that would be disastrous for all of us.

There is nothing to admire in the Belgian response to the Brussels attack. There is nothing to admire in the panic and extremism that Americans are showing.
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And here's a graphic story about life for children in Iraq. We can spend in the trillions to destroy.  But we can't spend a cent for poverty we created,  and for the human displacement by ISIS (which we also created). These children have no life. And it's not going to get any better.

God bless America.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2016/03/iraqi-children-scavenge-living-160321112736752.html
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I thought the following comment was too kind. I really don't think it will matter who gets elected president. The switch from Republican Bush to Democrat Obama made very little difference. The reality is that no matter who wins, the U.S. will be run by its billionaires.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/03/dear-america-don-damn-gullible-160323092918734.html
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http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-cia-pentagon-isis-20160327-story.html

Here's an example of why I never trust papers like the LA Times. It's a story about how, in northern Syria, a group armed by the CIA is fighting against a group armed by the Pentagon. It says this is the first time this has ever happened.

Rubbish.

This sort of thing has been going on for almost 16 years, often more. The U.S. routinely creates chaos in this way. ISIS was and perhaps still is getting its money by selling oil - with full American knowledge and even participation. ISIS also gets help, with full American knowledge,  from Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Al Quaeda depended on weaponry from the U.S. That's a relationship that goes back BEFORE the invasion of Afghanistan.
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The Huffington post has a report of a bitter attack by Fidel Castro on President Obama. I expect the North American press will dismiss it as the crankiness of an old man.  I don't think it is. I think he realized that his Cuban revolution has, after half a century, been defeated.

Until that revolution, the U.S. ruled Cuba with dictators who tortured, murdered and looted for the fun of it. There was nothing unusual about that. The U.S. treated much of Latin America that way - and still does.  The only purpose of Cuba was to be poor so it could supply cheap labour to American 'entrepreneurs' - as the Irving press would say.

Castro wanted h is people to have a chance at education, health care, decent living conditions. Despite what the Huffington Post story says, he was not a communist. In fact, the first country he turned to for help was the U.S. But the U.S. didn't, and still doesn't, give a damn for education, health care or decent living conditions, not even for its own people. It turned Castro down. It also began a long series of illegal 'sanctions' to prevent Cuba from trading with other countries.

Cuba turned to the communist Soviet Union as his only hope. And that's when he began calling himself a communist. Anyway, any person who has ever read Marx will realize that Castro was never a communist. Jesus might have been, though.

The U.S. backed an invasion of Cuba, set bombs in some of its resorts,  blew up a Cuban civilian airliner (talk about terrorism), and made many attempts to murder Castro. Then came the fall of the Soviet Union.  It was a devastating blow for Cuba which certainly couldn't expect help from anybody, and certainly not from a puppet Canada which wouldn't dream of challenging U.S. policy.
Somehow, Castro managed to make better ( and cheaper) education a right for all Cubans all the way through university - something neither the wealthy U.S. or Canada have even attempted. He established a medicare system available to all, and of very high quality, something the U.S. has never been able to do.

Now, it's over. Fifty years of sanctions have done their job. Privatization will spread like mould.Big business will infiltrate the univeristies as it has those in Canada. And there is no way American big business will allow Cuba to continue with a health care system that is far better than that of the U.S., and at  less than  half the price.

Now, it's over. Now, Cubans can live just like Americans - the ones in the slums of New York and the streets of Los Angeles and the ruins of Chicago.
If we were in that situation, we might be angry, too. (If the Irving press allowed us to wake up long enough.)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fidel-castro-obama_us_56f94816e4b0143a9b48a451?utm_hp_ref=politics
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Huffington Post always ends with a long list of its news sources. Most of that list is not impressive. It includes even Fox News, arguably the most corrupt and lying news service in the world.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 27: Three topics today.

Today will be a mixed bag of where I get my news, a broad look at why the U.S. cannot make a real democracy out of Iran or any other part of the middle east, and a look at why the history we know makes it impossible for us to understand anything.

First, my main sources. I'm still catching up on recording my list. But this  gives a pretty good idea.

1. The Guardian (uk). Once the best English newspaper in the world, I find it to be on the decline in recent months. I suspect (but don't know) it has become vulnerable because it has the problem of most newspapers these days - declining revenue. It may also be connected to a recent change in the chief editor.

2. Al Jazeera - Now, quite possibly the best paper available in the English language.

3. The Brunswick News  (Irving). It is actually worse that the New China News Agency of Mao's time. It exists to keep its readers in a stupor.

4. Information Clearing House. This has to be used with some caution. But it is far superior to most conventional news sources.

5. Haaretz, an Israeli paper inferior to Al Jazeera only in its more limited coverage.

6. The Saker. Can be very good, but also terribly ponderous and even incomprehensible in its style.

7. Off-Guardian. A sort of anti-Guardian. It has to be used carefully because its style is sometimes over-the-top as well as being ponderous.

8. Huffington Post - especially Ralph Nader. Sometimes, its general quality can be quite mixed.

9. Voltairenet.org - Like The Saker, it can be excellent but, also like the Saker, the style can be ponderous and more than a little overdone.

10. Rabble.ca - A group of Canadian journalists of the old school, people who worked in a world in which more journalists told the the truth and the whole truth. It's very good, expecially on the Ottawa scene.

11. RT (Russia Times). It's certainly limited in what it can say, and you're not likely to find criticism of Russia in it. That means it sometimes hides the whole truth - but what it does say is usually reliable.

There are others. I'm still prodding myself to remember to complete the list of what I use.
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Now, let's take a broad coverage of US plans for the world.

Briefly, the plan is for the U.S. to us its military power to control the whole world. It would, moreover, excercise that power without regard for the rule of law. The U.S. government would, itself, become the law. The U.S. would bring democracy to the whole world. All this is why it has something like a thousand military bases all over the world.

The U.S. intends to become the world police - a police entitled to make up the law as they go along.

 This is, in part, what the invasion of Iraq was about. The U.S. would make Iraq a democracy, and it would become the base from which the U.S. could dominate the middle east. With that domination, it could deal with the world's real problems, Russia and China.

Consider a few problems in this.
1. The 'police' would enforce law on the whole world. But the law would be whatever the bosses of the police said it was. That's a strange form of law and order.
2. And such a 'legal' system would be hopelessly out of step with any form of democracy. (Not to mention the reality that the U.S. has a strong history of crushing democracies, and a very limited one of creating them.)

But that was the plan. With Iraq under control, the U.S. would have a base from which to attack Iran and Syria - which would really be an attack on Russia and China since both Russia and China were dependent on oil from Iran and Syria. Afghanistan could play a similar role since it was inserted between Russia and China.

In both cases, the US could rely on its puppets in Britain who had become what Churchill most feared. Churchill well understood that as the British Empire fell, the U.S. was determined to take it for the American empire. And the U.S. did get a major part of the British empire - but it missed the two, greatest prizes, India and China. Now, Britain could only hold on to the coattails of the U.S., and become its puppet to help in the further expansion of the American empire. That's why Britain sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan - and why Canada sent them to Afghanistan.

But none of it worked. The most powerful and expensive military in history failed to conquer much smaller countries which depended on citizen warriors with inferior weaponry. The U.S. got Saddam Hussein. But he really didn't matter.  The important thing was to build a huge government/military complex in Iraq as their base to attack Iran. But it has been empty and falling into ruin for years.

As for democracy, they established an elected government - with all its members under the thumbs of the U.S. - just like the 'democracies' they established in Haiti and Guatemala and Egypt and Afghanistan. Really, they were much like the democracy of the U.S., itself, which is under the thumbs of billionaires.
In the end, the U.S. has destroyed Syria and Iraq. It has murdered millions, and destroyed the lives of many millions more. It has created a Europe so swamped with refugees it cannot deal with them. And we're going to see a lot more destabilization in Europe as a result of that.

The U.S. also ignored a fundamental issue in the middle east and Afghanistan. The 'nations' in those places were not really nations at all. The middle east, in particular, was made up of 'nations' simply by drawing lines on a map. There really were no Syrians or Lebanese or Iraqis.

They were, like Afghanistan, moving toward being nations, and maybe even democracies. Along the way they had to shed loyalties to tribes or religious sects. But that takes time. What the U.S. did was to take that time away from them, to force them into becoming something they didn't understand. And the result of that was to destroy all the progress they had been making, and to drive them back to religious and tribal loyalties.

And the result of that was to destroy any progress those people had made to becoming modern states. Another result was to create a hatred of the U.S. so profound that it could enable peoples who were poor to defeat the world's biggest and most expensive military.

Iraq and Afghanistan will be remembered as the two, greatest foreign policy blunders of history. Obama inherited a disaster - and he managed to make it even worse.

One would think the American people would by now be fed up with the results produced by greedy capitalists and paid-for politicians. Many of them are. But the capitalists and their politicians have been largely successful in misrepresenting what has happened.

Their news media have done a good job of playing down the horror they have created, and in putting all the blame on Muslims (with some left over for Mexicans and Blacks.) That's what Trump is about. That's what Ted Cruz is about. That, most especially, is what Hillary Clinton is about.

I don't suggest by all this that the Russians and Chinese are nicer than us. What they have been, so far, is more intelligent than us. All sides have yet to realize that the nation-state as we know it has had its day.   We can no longer afford to live under a structure that has always served the rich, and has done even that with massive incompetence and corruption.
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I have often referred to the effect that our concept of history has on our thinking. And that's too bad because so much of it is false. It has to be. In my first teaching job (grade seven), I was reprimanded for mentioning how long ago it was that dinosaurs roamed this earth.  Apparently, two very religious parents were angry because their Bible reading told them that the earth wasn't created yet at that time.

Since I was also required to do a Bible reading, it's a good thing I never read them Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

History is often used to teach patriotism or national pride. But that's not what history is about. It's about what actually happened. But when we read history or, more especially, when we see it on TV or in film, we usually get a false sense of it.

Last night, I watched a bit of some TV flic called Vikings. They were a scruffy bunch - unwashed, messy, brutal. In fact, Vikings were the dandies of their time. They washed almost every week - this in a Europe in which most never washed at all. They kept their hair neat.

Yes, some raided and slaughtered. But most were enterpreneurs who carried out their voyages of discovery to create trade links. Those who went to the Arctic, for example, were looking for polar bears (cubs) which found a hot market among the private zoos of European aristocrats.

Scots, many of whom have Viking in their DNA, take enormous pride in their kilts with 'ancient' family tartans. In fact, the idea of the kilt originated  with a factory owner of the mid-1700s who needed cheap clothing for his workers. As for the family Tartan, that developed out of a fancy of Queen Victoria about 1860. And the dish called the haggis doesn't come from the Scots. It's from the Roman Empire. The bagpipe was Roman, too.

My mother, a daughter of the Highlands, taught me that Scotland was the only nation in the world that had never been conquered. Um, well, the Romans certainly made mince meat out of the land we call Scotland. They gave it up only because the troops were needed elsewhere. In fairness, though, the Scots of that time weren't really Scottish. The real Scots came later. They were an Irish tribe called (seriously) Scottis.

Then I watched part of a TV western series called The Young Riders. Gunfights are a regular feature, with the boys shooting two guns at a time, and staring down opponents for the quick draw. None of that ever happened. The west was far less violent than that. Only an idiot would shoot two revolvers at a time. And the quick draw shootout never happened - until movies.

Then there are the heroes of Alamo like Davie Crockett and Jim Bowie who died patriotically and bravely defending the Alamo against the Spanish army. There are many holes in this one.

1. It wasn't much of a fight because most of the 'heroes' were drunk at the time.
2. They were in Mexican territory at the time.
3. They had entered Mexico as land speculators and slave traders. (yes, including Crockett).
4. Slavery was illegal in Mexico.
5. So they had been ordered to leave, and they refused to.
6. That's why the Mexican army attacked them.

I was very young at the time of Dunkirk. But I remember the terror of the adults around me, and then the reassuring stories of the bravery of the British troops, of the small, family boats that went out from England to save them, and of the saving of French troops, too. I still remember the movies about it, and the images of soldiers lined up patiently on the beaches, and Stuka dive bombers.
But none of that is really what happened. The British army was both large and relatively well-equipped in that episode of 1940. But it was also horribly demoralized and out of control and in a panic. That's why it was decided to evacuate them. But the decision was not told to the Belgians or the French. The British simply abandoned them, and fled to Dunkirk.

Once at Dunkirk they savaged the town, raping women, looting- with particular attention to the liquor. Then, thoroughly drunk, they headed down to the beach. In addition to the naval ships, some small boats did  come from Britain but, usually, the owners refused to go along. They were replaced by sailors.  And many boat owners insisted on being paid for their boats before they would hand them over.

The French soldiers who escaped with them were just those in the area who found out that the British were fleeing, and who managed to get onto the last boats.

Can you imagine how parents would have rioted it I had taught that to grade 7?
It's all in an excellent book by Nicholas Harman, Dunkirk, The Patriotic Myth.
I well remember the school play for grade 7 when I was a student. Years later, I would teach it to a grade 7. I was a story by a clerical historian, Reverend Lionel Groulx whose vision of Quebec history shaped generation. I remember the play and the story well.

Some 40, valiant men in the Montreal of New France volunteered to canoe their way up the Ottawa River to intercept an Iroquois army headinig to invade Montreal, and army that they knew would almost certainly kill all the courageous volunteers. (The Montrealers were accompanied by Huron allies. But they never figure much in the history books.)

About 60 kilometres up the Ottawa, they encountered and attacked a small group of Iroquois. But behind that small group of Iroquois was a big group of Iroquois who soon wiped out Dollard des Ormeaux and his followers.  (Wisely, none of my Decarie ancestors had volunteered for the trip.)

The hole in this history should be obvious. If a huge Iroquois army was coming to attack Montreal, why on earth send some of the Montrealers out to sure death. They would have been more effective if kept behind city walls as defenders.

Obviously, the story is a lie.

But it's still taught.

The truth is that the Iroquois traded with western tribes to get furs they could sell to the British in New York. Dollard's mission was to find a small group of Iroqois, kill them, and steal their furs. He had no idea all those other Iroquois were right behind them.

The trouble with this sort of history is that it affects how we think of ourselves and of others. It makes us see ourselves as, almost racially, brave and honourable. It creates images of us as being heroic, in the  tradition of Davey Crockett or Dollard - and always the victims but never the instigators of wars - and never brutally cruel.

When was the last time you saw a movie about mass torture by the U.S.? How much of that story gets taught in our schools? How much of it even appears in our news media? Where are the movies and books about murder and torture and mass killing that we have taken part in?

 Exactly who was our air force killing until recently in Iraq and Syria? And what Canadian purpose was this serving?

How many Canadians have even heard of our internment of Japanese Canadians in 1942? I met many of the survivors of that. They held in their anger and humiliation but, oh, I soon realized how deeply they felt it. I once had a brief conversation ( on a different subject) with David Suzuki. He was interned as a very young child. And even in a short conversation, I could feel the anger that boiled in  him. It was something I had learned to be aware of among my Japanese-Canadian friends.

Our version of history shapes how we see ourselves. It also shapes how we see others. Remember this poetic gem from the U.S.?

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
 The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

It's a portrait of an America that welcomed the immigrants, and offered them a better life. It has had a powerful influence on how Americans see themselves. And it's all crap.

An industrializing America welcomed immigrants who would live and work for the cheapest rate in some of the most vile living and working conditions known to humanity. There was even a bonus for the wealthy in it. Cheap immigrant labour would force the American working class to accept lower wages, too.
And, even at that, not all immigrants were welcome. Some Jews and East Europeans made it. Irish in both Canada and the U.S. were accepted with reluctance.atBut they weren't welcome. And most orientals and Blacks had no chance whatever of getting in.

History, in its many forms, shapes the way we think of ourselves. It also shapes the way we see others. Westerners have a powerful image of Muslims as backward and primitive. They have no sense whatever that Islam was a high form of civilization when Europe was still in the dark ages.

It's worth reading some histories that break the myths. Here's a starter list.

Fogel and Engirma, Time on the Cross
John Perry, Myths and Realities of American Slavery
James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me.
James Lawrence, The Golden Warrior- Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia.

The last one was a heartbreaker for me. From the age of six, I had been memorizing Rudyard Kipling without realizing the racism and worship of killing that characterized his poems. When I was eleven or twelve, I read Lawrence of Arabia, and thought he must have been the greatest thing since sliced bread.

 Then I read the truth about him.

We can't think and decide properly until we learn to spot lies all around us - in our news media, films, TV - and even in our poetry. And until we make it a habit to look for reading that is truthful.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Today's Irving press has another, full page story on the attack in Brussels that killed 31 people. It has, surprisingly, a story on Yemen where thousands are dying of hunger and disease, and illegal cluster bombs made in the U.S.A. and dropped by Saudi Arabia - and by weapons illegally sold to the Saudis by Canada. We don't know how many have been murdered or starved to death in Yemen because, it seems, there is no western source that gives a damn. We know it's thousands. More likely, it's tens of thousands. But the story in the Irving press ignores our role in this. All it talks about is killing by those nasty people of al Quaeda. ( There's no mention have how many have been killed by hero American 'pilots' in their comfy battle stations guiding drones.)

Then there are two pages of ads and of people you never heard of holding up big cheques.

The last page of Canada and world has a story on a girl arrested on a porn charge in Nova Scotia, and a bitter story on an ISIS suicide bombing in Iraq that killed 29. That's followed by 2/3 of a page of ads.

There's nothing of the horrors of being refugees, of how many are dying of exposure or hunger or lack of medical care or drowning, of how many innocent people are killed   every day by U.S. and British drones, of the vast corruption, especially in U. government and industry, which steals the greater part of the money assigned to foreign aid There's no mention of the British and French troops who are making a bigger mess out of Libya

In short, there's really nothing here about Canada or the World.
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The big headline for Section A is that it's possible that a New Brunswick judge may be nominated to the Supreme Court. I wet my pants with joy. The story occupies half a page, plus a very pig photo of the Supreme court building for those who care. Page 3 has a story that it's going to be cold until tomorrow. It has a big photo of people all dressed up to walk on Main St. - so you can know what cold looks like.

The only story worth reading is on A11. Labour is angry because the provincial government intends to change the law so it can block 'unaffordable' wage settlements in both public and private sectors. Come on, kids. I have never even heard of a wage settlement that an employer, government or private, regarded as affordable.  I started teaching for the $2700 a year that a school board of corporate bosses decided was all I needed to live on. (Women teachers got less.) Salaries didn't get livable until we forced change on the board.

This is an attempt to drive wages down, and slip even more money into the pockets of the already rich. The end result? It will made 99% of us worse off.
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The editorial and Norbert are both quite reasonable. I would take his editorial (on housing) one step further. It is vital that we get out of the 1950s, and develop a  more compact Moncton. All other things aside, the cost just of clearing snow and providing water, sewage and electricity for all those kilometres of boring bungalows must be huge.

The Commentary page is dominated by a big photo of tidal bore surfers on January 1, 2014. I have no idea why. Under it is Murphy's column, the one that sets new standards for triviality every Saturday.

The column at the bottom of the page is one that I don't know what to make of. It's from Cardus which (as the newspaper does NOT tell us) is a think tank in the service of religious schools. And that means that it's studies are always favourable to religious and private schools.  (And it would be useful for the newspapers to tell its readers that.)

Now I take no side in this. One of the universities I attended was seriously Baptist. One that I taught in was Roman Catholic. In that experience, I learned that it's sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes doesn't make any difference. Cardus invariably tells us that religious schools are not only good, but superior all over the world. I've read some of their research.  I find it questionable.

To make it worse, this column is not about either religion or education. It is about payday loans. Is this about bringing religious principles into politics? I have no objection to that. I think politicians should have moral values.

In sum, the commentary seems worth thinking about. But I don't know enough about the subject to draw any conclusion - and I distrust think tanks that don't make it clear where their money comes from.

Alec Bruce has a thought-provoking column about the middle class. The last sentence is a bombshell. But don't you dare cheat. Read it from the top.
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The sermonette on the Faith page is different. This one is what, I think, the message of Jesus was really about - not about thinking only of ourselves and getting into heaven, but about bringing the lessons of the teachings of Jesus into our daily lives. It's about religion and the world now, rather than about stomping on heads of others while climbing into glory land.

It's about someone you would not  expect to hear about in a sermon. It's about Robert Ford, ex-mayor of Toronto, druggie, alcoholic, bully... I think Brett Anningson is a little too kind to him. I'm not sure that Ford 'tried' all the things that Anningson says he did. But pastors should be a little too kind. And this one is well worth a read.

I'm puzzled by one thing about the Faith page. Some time ago, church announcements disappeared. As well, church ads about services have almost disappeared. Why did that happen? Let's guess.

Is it possible that the Irvings, of Irving Chapel fame, decided to charge for that space - and that the churches backed off because of the cost?
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Here's the Yemen that doesent make the Irving press.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/25/saudi-arabia-campaign-leaves-80-of-yemen-population-needing-aid
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Around the world, justice systems are usually punitive - rather like Stephen Harper's lock 'em up and throw away the key. It's a destructive system, as you soon learn if you ever work in  a prison or spend time in one. And the rate of cures is very small. That makes it expensive - especially in the U.S. with the largest prison population in the world.

In Canada, a disproportionate number of native peoples are in prison, just as Blacks in the U.S. are. But, in Canada, there has been some effort by native peoples to use a traditional and restorative treatment. We don't hear much about it - so I was interested to see this article about a similar attempt in New Zealand.

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2014/04/restoring-hope-20144183654220490.html
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There's another look at the off-Guardian.  I'm finding its material is pretty good. But the writing and the length of it must  seriously hurt its popularity.  It 's not enough to give an alternative point of view. You have to make people want to read it.

http://off-guardian.org/2016/03/22/brics-under-attack-the-empire-strikes-back-in-brazil/
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And here's a criticism of the Canadian budget I haven't seen in the mainstream press.

http://www.taxfairness.ca/en/news/breathe-easy-bank-presidents-budget-didnt-touch-stock-option-loopholes
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Here is a column by a Muslim Canadian who is somewhat critical of the west, but not nearly enough. She writes about terrorism. I would have gone much, much further than she has. Of course, "terrorists' have attacked westerners.  For that matter, our terrorists have been attacking and killing Muslims by the millions. What would you expect Muslims to do in response? Convert and become like us Christian terrorists?

http://rabble.ca/columnists/2016/03/after-brussels-how-should-muslims-respond-to-terrorist-attacks
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Hillary Clinton is one of the most detestable national politicians in American  history. (And the competition for that status is really tough.) Ralph Nader does a good job on her.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ralph-nader/hillary-clinton-sugarcoat_b_9222616.html
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I have more. But it's time for supper. In any case, I'm learning that many of the sites of protest from around the world are interesting - but almost unreadable for most people. It's not just that their language is highly technical. It's also badly written for any broad communication. Any fool can write something that's complicated. A good writeR uses language that is simple and clear. In that sense, The Bible is excellent writing - though dealing with profound topics.

Friday, March 25, 2016

March 25: Let's get rid of our illusions.

For today's opener, a history question. What was the origin of the Nazi salute, with arm raised and extended at an angle?

Answer - The United States. People taking the oath of allegiance (as happened in the schools every day), started' with the right hand on the heart. "I pledge allegiance..." then the arm was raised to point at the stars and stripes.."to   this flag...."

Early Italian fascists thought this a neat idea for a salute. And so it was picked up by Mussolini who was almost certainly the souce of it for Hitler. (I believe the U.S. dropped that pointing part of the oath of Allegiance about 1940).
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The first page of today's Irving press is quite a decent one, though it's dominated by a large photo of a floral designer watering flowers, presumably to edify people who have never seen anyone watering flowers. The headline for the photo is 'Metro Moncton ready for Easter'.

Well, it's cheaper than  have having a real story there.

Page A3 has a story about something that hasn't yet happened at the courthouse. So it's headed with the same, old photo of the courthouse. Below it is a photo that is almost solid black. It seems to be a photo of some cars parked at a pizza place. It adds nothing to the story. but it does fill space. And so it goes with most of the pictures telling us nothing at all.

The editorial is both vague and bland. The final line has the usual pitch for more 'energy' projects for New Brunswick. Norbert Cunningham writes on much the same topic, and says much the same thing.

The guest column is written like a very boring university lecture by the sort of professor who can put people to sleep in minutes. It deals with the towering issue of the future of French's Ketchup at Loblaw's, and suggests how consumer demand for it shows that the customer really runs the food industry. The evidence he offers is pretty slim for that statement.  I can't understand why an editor would run this. It must come very, very cheaply.

Alec Bruce has a useful column about the federal budget for the coming year. But read the headline carefully. It says "Sunny ways are here again", not "Sunny days". There's a difference.

Then there's a very fine commentary by Sue Calhoun of monctonhomelessness.com  It's about the YWCA of Moncton returned to its roots in providing safe housing and learning experiences for women. The paper could use more columns like this.
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Section B, Canada&World, will be real thrill for people who care about the Gomeshi saga. It takes up over a page. And it has a big photo of him for anyone who thinks that adds to our understanding.

There's really nothing about what is becoming the biggest refugee crisis in history, nothing about the Saudis in Yemen, nothing about the very provocative military and naval exercises that the U.S. is carrying out in South Korea, and off the China coast. There's nothing about Turkey which seems to be active on both of the leading sides in the middle  east.

 But there is a quite pointless story about how Elizabeth May of the Greens spent more on her reelection than did any other party leader. Well, of course she did. She was the most important person for the party to get elected; so they concentrated their limited funds on her. Stephen Harper didn't spend much in his riding because he knew he had the seat almost as a gift.

This is a story that tells us nothing about anything. The real questions are - 1.    How much did each party spend on the election? 2. Who gave them that money? But we're not likely to learn that from the Irving press.
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Let's start with an important story the Irving press missed.  The following item is emotional; and these are times for us to combine emotion and reason. And I am quite confident that all this post says is true - first, because of the well-proven record of the author. and secondly because I have seen this confirmed by excellent sources.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44491.htm

This is what we are doing. This is what our taxes our paying for. It is being done in the middle east, in Africa, in South America. It is being done on a smaller scale in the U.S., Canada, Europe....

If it becomes convenient - and it will become convenient - the same will be done to almost all of us. We are going through a period of change that is  greater, more widespread, than the fall of Rome.

The cause of this one is capitalism allowed to run wild. This could as well happen under communism. In fact, it has happened under communism. We should have seen this coming. We had a  stunning example of this animal behaviour after the U.S. civil war.

Slavery by then operated within a capitalist framework. It was important to the capitalists of the south because it gave them a cheap labour force. (The U.S. also, by the way, had   white slaves  - nope, no racism there.) The American revolution was fought to enable big, American capitalists to expand their holdings across the continent. (Britain was opposed to such an expansion.)

But here's another odd point. The Confederate army in the civil war had tens of thousands of Black slaves in its ranks. They were armed, and they fought willingly. Why?

1. They knew the North was at least as racist as the south. (Tens of thousands in the North's army were blacks, too. But they were paid half what white soldiers were paid. And the U.S. army was segregated for almost a century after the civil war.)

2. Black slaves in the south were actually well fed, had housing, and, yes, even got days off. And they knew that those who fled to work under capitalism in the north were less fed, had worse housing, and had to work longer hours - and died younger. In fairness, those who made it all the way to Canada were treated only slightly (if at all) better than in the northern U.S.

3. They also knew that Abraham Lincoln was as racist as they come. The war was NOT being fought to free slaves. It was being fought to prevent the South from leaving the Union.  Lincoln left written records that admitted that.

Forget 'Gone With the Wind'.

Sure enough, when the war ended, capitalists went on a spree of brutality, forcing Blacks (and, in fact, almost all immigrants) to work long hours in vile and dangerous conditions for money they could barely survive on. If they lost an arm or a leg, they were simply fired. End of story. A great many died on the job, victims of unprotected machinery, or fires in factories they couldn't escape because they were locked in, murdered by employers for trying to organize other workers....forced to work for almost nothing from the age of five...

It was the same in Canada. Betcha didn't learn all that in school.

That's the sort of thing, including the murdering part, that built the Rockefeller fortune
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Capitalism is now running wild in the middle east, in South America, in Africa and looking for war in Asia. And we're paying for it. We aren't fighting terrorism. The biggest terrorist by far is the United States.

Think of what Peter Koenig is writing. Whole generations in the middle east (and other places) have lost childhood as millions of children live in fear, live with no hope of education, and starve and die either in fleeing or in the filthy refugee camps of a Europe that won't accept them.

They are living through something even worse than the horror faced by immigrants to Canada and the U.S. in the industrialization of the late nineteenth century. Forget the crap about the 'American dream'. For the most part, it didn't begin until the period after World War Two. Until then, we were, most of us, simply an inferior race who deserved neglect and abuse.

Of course we were. Those who have enormous wealth can justify it only if they are genetically superior to the rest of us. That attititude flowered among the British aristocracy, and accounted for its indifference to how the rest lived. And it took root among the major capitalists from at least 1800 on.

And it's still there. That does much to explain the anger of those who are attracted to Trump. A person like him is no solution to their anger. In fact, he is the very model of what they should be angry at. But all they understand is that they're angry.

The world is going through the greatest change it has ever seen. But the anger is being diverted by racists like Trump so we are taught to see Muslims as the problem, by propaganda news agencies like the Irving press that simply don't tell us what's happening (and, in many instances news services don't themselves understand what's happening. That's why we don't hear how the bulk of U.S. aid, for example, never reaches the people who need it because it goes straight into the pockets of billionaires.)

Would the wealthy use nuclear weapons? You bet. In fact, smaller nuclear warheads are now being developed as a 'less dangerous' form of  nuclear war.
Time is short. The TransPacific Partnership could be the last tune up to turn loose the hungry wolves of capitalism. And they won't have to worry about governments because, for all practical purposes, governments won't exist.

Yes, capitalism, like socialism, like other isms can work. But no ism can be allowed to run loose.

I think Peter Koenig is worth a second read. (I have to confess I was really touched by it.)

We are doing the evil he talks about. We are paying for it. We cannot fix it because our political and economic leaders are submerged in greed and immorality. The best thing we can do for this world is to get us and our capitalists out of most of it.
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I took the item below because, though it's about Britain, it also applies to Canada and the U.S. What's happening in Yemen  (though unnoticed by the Irving press) is an extraordinarily brutal war caused when one of the poorest nations in the world was attacked by one of the richest - and with countries like the U.S., Britain, and Canada supplying the butcher's tools.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/25/british-arms-sales-saudi-arabia-immoral-illegal-yemen

It is illegal for us to sell weapons to a country like Saudi Arabia. Canada has actually signed treaties to that effect. This is a war illegal in every respect. It's an unprovoked invasion. The major casualties, quite deliberately, are civilians   Sixty percent of the victim country is in desperate need of food. We are supporting Saudi Arabia, a nation with one of the worst human rights records in the world. We are supplying it with weapons.

Can you seriously support a Canadian government that would allow that?
Sorry Justin. Take your cute smile and stuff it. And, Times and Transcript, you might rethink your worship of Dominic Leblanc. I see nothing to admire in a government that would  sell weapons to a country with the record of Saudi Arabia, and a governmment whose leaders would lie to us about the legality of its actions in Syria.
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Here's a really well done piece on the U.S. and human rights. Obama just loves to preach to the world about human rights. In fact, the U.S. (including the years under Obama) has one of the worst human rights records in the world.
He can get away with it because Americans loll in a sort of hot tub filled the the lies of their history books and their movies - and their news media.

For Canadians, there's a touch of reality if you google Canada photos slums 1900. Such conditions were common all over Canada into the 1960s, at least. I remember it all too well. Prosperity was not normal in Canada until World War Two and for two or three decades later. Since then, we've been drifting back to 1900.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44480.htm
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Here's a column on the death of Toronto ex-mayor Rob Ford. It's quite different (and more honest) than most that I've seen in Canadian media.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/03/toronto-rob-ford-tells-donald-trump-160323060209706.html
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I don't think I have shown this one before. It's important.

http://off-guardian.org/2016/03/23/a-world-war-has-begun-break-the-silence/
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And, to end on a happy note and to  give Trudeau credit where credit is due...

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/12/note-world-leaders-refugees-trudeau-canada-syria-151214051232043.html

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March 24: Al Jazeera - the news champ?

In the front page headline is a story about how moncton has squalid rooming houses full of bedbugs and lice, poorly heated, with people crammed into filthy rooms. One of them  has  32 roomers, but only one toilet.   (Baths are out of the question.) Now, the provincial government and the city are stepping in to establish regulations. I'm sorry to read that.

As a regular reader of Norbert Cunningham,  I know that government interference in anything is bad, that these decisions are best made by private business. And remember, these flophouse owners are enterpreneurs and 'corporate citizens'. Read Norbert's columns. Entrepreneurs are good. Governments are bad.

The only other really big story in section A is that food trucks (vendors who sell food from trucks) are here to stay for the summer months. it's a big story that even has a picture of a food truck. I'm puzzled by this. I've been in many cities on four continents. All of them had food vendors working from trucks or barrows or pushcarts. When I was a kid in Montreal, dining out meant getting a bag of french fries from a food truck. Why is this such a big deal in Moncton?
There's really nothing else in Section A. Oh, there is one thing worth noting. Section A news always has stories from the court house. They really tell us nothing, but some people just love them - and they're cheap and easy to get. Every day, at least one such story has a big picture of the courthouse. It adds nothing to the story. But the paper has been running this picture and, sometimes another one, for years. Why?

Well it has to fill the space. Filliing it with print would cost money. But newspapers are dumping reporters to save money. So it's cheaper and easier to use pictures that tell us nothing. The same thing is regular on the opinion page, which always has a big (and cheap) photo to save the price of paying for another column.

The editorial is reasonable.. It's title is "Taxpayers deserve more detail on MHS proposal". So they do. But everything the editorial has to say is in that headline. I don't know why the editor bothered to write the rest. They could have just used a photo of a taxpayer.

Norbert has a column on technology in the home. I have no idea what his point is.

Rod Allen is back to his old self with a column about maple syrup. It's yet more of his cringingly cute sense of wit. And the point of it? Damned if I know.
Then, of course, a guest column from another billionaire-funded propaganda house, this time the Fraser Institute. It tells us how it's  just awful the way we tax the rich in this country. No wonder billionaires have to live in lice-infested flophouses. I cried as I read about it. In fact, it seems we overtax everybody. Obvious conclusion? Privatize everything. Then nothing will cost us anything.
This is such brainless propaganda that it's insulting to read it.
Alec Bruce, again, has a long column about nothing. This time, he lists the economic woes of Canada and the world. And his solution?  We, us, right here in New Brunswick, can  "re-energize the entrepreneurial culture we once exported to the rest of Canada".

Huh? The entrepreneurial culture (whatever that means) has existed for thousands of years. That's what the Roman Empire was about. That's why Jesus whipped the money changers out of the temple yard. The New Brunswick enterprenurial culture was characterized by timber barons who ruled the colony like regional dictators, and kept most of the money for themselves.
And, as a Canadian historian, I have never even heard of the rest of Canada importing its entrepreneurial culture (whatever that means) from New Brunswick. In any  case, New France had entrepreneurs before New Brunswick entrepreneurism even existed.

Section A is trivial, mindless, trashy.
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Section B, Canada&World, is not as good as section A. The world, apparently, consists almost entirely of Canada. And the headline, the big story, for Canada&World is that a Moncton  lawyer most of us have never heard of is thinking of running for the leadership of the provincial Conservatives. Wow! Just think of the effect this will have on the U.S. leadership races, the mass murder in  the middle east, the U.S. confrontations with Russia and China.

Then there's a whole page about the trial of broadcaster Gomeshi. Actually, nothing had happened when this went to print. So there was really nothing to tell. (However al Jazeera has the story. He got aquitted.)

Then there are two pages of funeral ads. And, hold me back, there's a big sale, a Spring special, of monuments up to 30% off. Note to self - make it a point to die on a funeral sale day.

Then there is a world special - a Toronto woman has been given a warning after tossing a cup of Time Horton's coffee into the face of a disabled man.

Oh, there is a story in which both both Trudeau and foreign affairs minister Stephan Dion say Canada is not at war with ISIS. Both of them must know that's not true. In short, both are lying. Both say Canada is not at war with ISIS because it does not fit the true definition of war. (I've never even heard the term "true definition of war".  Then both   give different (and untrue) versions of the definition of war.

Trudeau says a true war is one that can be won by either of the sides. But ISIS cannot win. Therefore, it isn't a war. I have never even heard of such a definition. That would mean the American invasions, over the years, of Haiti, Guatemala, Grenada, much of South America, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq were not true wars because none of those countries could possibly have been won by the other side.

Then Dion lies with "...in international law it will mean two armies with respecting rules..." I have read the international rules. They do not say  those things. In fact, by Dion's definition, World War Two never happened because Hitler's military did not respect the rules. (In fact, neither did ours.)  We hanged war criminals after World War Two. Now, if Dion is right, we should apologize since, by his definition, World War Two was not a 'true' war.
 
An act of war is, under international law, any military action in a country that has not attacked you or invited you. Syria has not invited us - not to fight ISIS, not to fight Syria.  Training or supplying one side is an act of war. identifying targets for anybody is an act of war.  We have already carried out acts of war with two bombing raids in Syria. And it doesn't matter who they attacked. Any intrusion without the request of Syria or without Syria posing a threat to Canada is an act of war. And it's not the first time Canada has done this.

Our 'peacekeepers' in Haiti were not 'peacekeepers'. They were not invited by Haiti. (The request came from the  U.S. which had invaded Haiti to overthrow the elected government.) And Haiti did not pose a threat to Canada. That was an illegal invasion.

I am astonished that there is no media reaction to the prime minister and the foreign minister telling us such lies, and such childish ones.
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As I read that, I was reminded of how so much our history is made up of lies. These lies gives us a false image of ourselves and our country. And they make it easy for power-brokers to manipulate us. For example, in the U.S. it's almost a religion that the U.S. was created for freedom and democracy, and equality. It wasn't. It was stirred up by the rich to get control of the country now that they no longer needed the British army for protection. Almost all the Fathers of the nation were big time land-speculators and slave owners.   In fact the original version of the constitution did NOT speak of freedom to pursue happiness. The original was "freedom ...to pursue property."

That's one reason why the speeches of leadership candidates and the cheers of their followers and their views of America's role in the world are so out of touch with reality.

A good, general American history is Richard Shenkman, Legends, Lies and Cherished Myths of American History, published 1988
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And while we're on the subject of  history, here's a bit of trivia that will make  you the hit of every party.

Men's shirts, coats, etc. button up with the left side overlapping the right. With women it's the reverse. Here's why.

Knights, when buckling on their armour,  buckled the left side slightly over the right. That was because most of their opponents would be right-handed. So the swipe of a sword or spear was likely to strike on their left. And that meant it could slide into that tiny gap in the armour where the armour plate overlapped. Making the overlap on the right lessened that danger.

As for women, the knight's lady usually had women servants to dress her. These would do up buttons on her dress and, since they were facing the lady (and were usually right-handed), it was  convenient to button up milady   with her right side overlapping the left.
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Here's a new site called "Offguardian". The founders of this site feel that the standards of The Guardian have declined, so that it sometimes has stories as bad as those in , say, the Washington Post. I have had the same feeling for some months now, though mostly in relation to the editorials and a few of the commentators. Here are a couple of samples of the "Offguardian" work sent to me by a reader.


http://off-guardian.org/2016/03/23/a-world-war-has-begun-break-the-silence/
They're both pretty sound stuff.
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The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has not attracted much attention by the editors at the Irving press. But it has frightening implications for cities all over the U.S. - and Canada. Uncounted numbers of U.S. children, probably millions, have dangerous levels of lead in their bodies, and it's because of their drinking water. In Canada, nobody of any significance has even bothered to ask about the situation in this country.

This is also a warning about the danger of homo sapiens. We are capable of extraordinary cruelty and abuse - without even thinking about it. And that appears to be true of almost all of us.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marian-wright-edelman/tick-tock-tick-tock-flint_b_9501676.html

It seems to be true of most religions, perhaps all, that they have had very, very little effect on our indifference to suffering, torture, murder, exploitation....
So it's not just the Faith Page of the Irving press that sucks air.
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In my reading of the conventional press, the source that seems to stand out in first place for quality is al Jazeera. This should be a matter of pride for Canadians because it was largely the creation of Tony Burman of the CBC. People  who suffer from Islamophobia may dislike it because of its connection with the middle east. But I'm finding that, among the commercial media, al Jazeera appears to be the leader, with a very honourable mention to Haaretz.

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/faultlines/2016/03/dark-prison-legacy-cia-torture-programme-160322104029035.html
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I was NOT impressed by this one in al Jazeera, though. It's by an American professor who sees terrorism and the killing of civilians as a new form of war. It's not.

It began at least as early as World War One. In fact, you can find also as a feature of Imperial wars for the last 500 years and more. The British, for example, killed innocent civilians with great joy. So did the US in its expansion to the west coast. Then, in World War Two, terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians, women, children became standard practice. By Vietman, mass murder of civilians had become the major feature of war.

What's new in cases like Brussels, is the fear that can be spread by a small number of people with very limited resources. It's a miniaturizeded version of the way we all fight war. And it's hard to deal with because its small number of practitioners are prepared to die - And there really is no country you can attack in retaliation.

I think we should face some realities. "They" are killing innocent people because "we" are killing innocent people. And "we" are killing them in much larger numbers. What we call terrorism is simply what we have been doing for centuries - but made smaller and harder to prevent. And it brings terror to those of us who clap hands when "our side" carries out mass murder. Remember the jubilation and celebration when George Bush greeted the aircraft carrier returning from the mass murder of civilians in Iraq?

The only cure for terrorist attacks like the one in Belgium is to stop the big, terrorist attacks that we carry out. The world has come to the end of its capacity to fight wars of any kind. We can't afford it financially and, in any case, it no longer works. It simply puts all of us under the danger (and certainty) of the final war.

That's not sentimental blathering. That's a reality. It sounds impossible? Maybe.

 Got another option?

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/03/brussels-attacks-mark-challenge-traditional-warfare-isis-160324061622669.html
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Al Jazeera also has the widest coverage of world news I have ever seen. It's quite a contrast to the local Irving press paper, The Moncton Times and Transcript, which can rarely get past Moncton's Main Street. And investigative reporting? The Irving press wouldn't dream of it.

http://video.aljazeera.com/channels/eng/videos/argentina-human-rights:-discovering-us-role-in-dirty-war/4816066161001
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A reader has sent me a site I have not read before. I have not had time to think about it yet, but it looks as though this could be an interesting site.
http://www.voltairenet.org/article190869.html
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