Monday, February 27, 2017

Feb. 27: when the insane are in charge of the asylum

A reader posted a cmment to a recent blog to question my criticism of the Amnesty International report on Syria. He said he cannot find any reason to believe that Amnesty International has admitted to finding no evidence of the mass torture and executions it recently reported on. In my  response, I couldn't find the evidence (and the admission)  that it had misrepresented the case.
But, today, I did find it.

Most of the "witnesses" were anonymous. Most appear to be living in Britain. That is not evidence. What they say are charges. But they are certainly not evidence.

That led me to a more general search of Amnesty International reports of recent years. Interesting reading.

For example, it has accused Syria of  using chemical weapons. I don't know whether that's true. But I do know that the U.S. leads the world in chemical weapons. Remember Agent Orange? The chemical that washed over much of Vietnam? The one that destroyed forests and crops and killed people and still produces babies with horrible birth defects - almost all of whom die? But that seems not to have  caught Amnesty's attention.

Remember the young, Vietnamese girl in flames after being hit with the napalm that was sprayed over Vietnam?  That was a chemical weapon.

Ever hear of the mass shelling and bombing carried out to this day with depleted uranium - shells and bombs which will go on killing years from now?

Amnesty International names Russia for its bombing of Aleppo which killed civilians. Hey! I guess they never heard that the U.S. has been the world champ in the bombing of civilians in Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq  with far the heaviest raids in history, and directed, deliberately, against civilians. Over the last seventy years and more, the U.S.has dropped more bombs than all the rest of the world put together.

There is also no mention of the U.S. blockading Yemen to starve its population, no mention of the U.S. supplying 'terrorists' with weapons, money and training.
I notice, too, it criticized Russia for its 'aggression' in Crimea. That is, to say the least, a very twisted, American version of what happened. It never mentioned the more dangerous act of the U.S. in overthrowing the elected government of Ukraine. Nor did it bother mentioning that the population of Crimea is largely Russian.

And Latin America? Terrible, terrible place. Lots of disorder, assassination of environment activists, rebellion led by dictators ....  There is no mention that the disorder is largely the result of American interference, and of the death grip American and Canadian businesses have on political and economic divisions in that continent.

A reading of Amnesty International reports does not fill me with confidence in that organization's honesty. Indeed, what it offers is an American view of the world. It's report on Syria denounces Russia bombing - but doesn't mention U.S. (or Canadian) bombing in that country. It mentions Syrian torture  (for which it has no evidence). But it lets the American use of torture off with a tut-tut.
These aren't reports. These are propaganda.

Writing this reminded me of the Guatemalan civil war that lasted 36 years. It began with an American invasion in the early 1950s. (Well, of course, it wasn't American. It just suddenly appeared fully armed and trained with the participation and blessing of the CIA. Guatemala was helpless, and soon had a U.S. supplied dictator.

The war continued, turning into a war between U.S. controlled dictators and the Guatemalan people. It happened because U.S. capitalists, mostly mine owners, wanted the resources of Guatemala. and it wanted them on the cheap with no environmental safeguards.

This radicalized the Christian churches of Guatemala who joined the fight against the dictators and their mining bosses. Accordingly, the dictators (supported closely  by the CIA) murdered priests, nuns, missionaries in large numbers. In the late stages alone, 200,000 native peoples and clergy were murdered. It wasn't really a war. It was a genocide, a mass murder of men, women, children. For the whole period, the number was somewhere over 300,000. One of the murdered was a lay mssionary from Buctouche, New Brunswick, where he now lies in the Catholic cemetery.

But the Canadian and American news media ignored the whole story. And our local chamber of commerce has made no mention of honouring the murdered New Brunswicker with a dinner - clap, clap.  So I checked Amnesty International for its scoop on the story.
Notice that "United States" does not appear. The bad guys are the locals. There's no mention of the U.S. working though the CIA. The mention of mining companies is there - but very brief, and naming no company. It's doesn't even say that most of them are American.   Nor does it mention that the U.S. president who put on the big push for mass killing was George Bush Sr. in his days as head of the CIA.  
Every day, people are drowning, often by the hundreds, as they flee the horrors of the middle east to seek refuge in Europe. And who is at fault for this? Well, it's those non-government agencies that are interfering to save the drowning. Of course.

And why is there terrorism in the middle east?  Is it because of terrorists? Well, as a matter of fact, the killing in the middle east goes back over a century. And it was begun by western powers eager to get control of the oil. Remember the film "Lawrence of Arabia"? Getting British control over Saudi Arabian oil is what Lawrence was all about.

And the first terrorism in the region - killing for the purpose of creating fear - was not by arabs. It was created by European Jews fleeing the terror of Naziism. Immediately after World War Two, thousands fled the death camps to illegally enter Palestine. (They couldn't flee to Canada or the U.S. because we wouldn't let them in.)

Once in the middle east, they formed terrorist groups, killing Palestinians and British even before Israel existed. It began with the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946. Mass murder of Palestinian civilians by gangs of Jewish terrorists continued at least to the early 1950s. And they murdered quite innocent civilians - men, women, and children. After all, terrorism is about terrorizing.

Muslims do not seem to have got into the terrorism game until Russia invaded Afghanistan. The was when the CIA organized and financed Afghanist terrorist groups like al Quaeda. And it still funds and trains Muslim terrorists like ISIS in the middle east.

Virtually all countries today practice terrorism, particularly in the form of bombing civilians. A giant step in that was the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Neither bombing had anything to do with military targets. Both were acts enitrely of terrorism.

As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy. And he is us."

Isn't it just terrible the way NGOs are saving refugees from drowining?
Here's the story on the Canada/EU trade deal. It's a death blow to democracy and to national governments. Funny our new media haven't said much about it. And, for all his blather, it's essentially what Donald Trump represents.

There is no limit to greed. There is no limit to the stupidity produced by greed.
Donald Trump is not different, except in rhetoric, from most of the presidents before him. He makes it sound like he's fighting the establishment while, in fact, he's defending the establishment. And so is Trudeau.
One of the great challenges facing us (but which most of our news media and political leaders haven't noticed) is automation.  It is destroying jobs at an amazing rate. And it's doing it all over the world because robots are cheaper than people. That's what happens when countries are run  according to the wishes of corporations.

As robotization floods into the work place, jobs disappear. Do our governments and corporations have anything to say about this?

Of course not. They're concerned only with making money. But there are consequences for us all, even the rich, in making more money by firing people. And obvious consequence is one hell of a drop in the purchasing power of our society. That should be obvious. But we have had the gospel of capitalism drummed into us - make the rich wealthier and that will benefit all of us.
In fact, it won't. Cheap labour has plunged much of the world into deep poverty - think of Congo, South America. Think of a British empire which enriched  wealthy British while leaving the vast lower classes in vile conditions.

We cannot survive as unemployment rates soar as a result of robotization. But corporation bosses aren't good at thinking out of their very tiny boxes. That's why, not that long ago, Canadians often had to work ten hours a day, six days a week. Household servants had to work all day, every day, with an hour off on Sunday to go to church. Salaries were low. There were no benefits, no pensions. Most of our society was miserably poor. That really didn't change until World War Two. Now, the corporation world is busily turning back the clock.

The lesson, especially for Canadian Liberals and Conservatives and for American Republicans and Democrats is that we have to govern to meet the needs of the whole society. Governing to serve the rich is not going to work. It never has.

The prosperity that came to Canada and the U.S. for a few decades after World War Two was essentially a product of the war as government maintained support for the war by promising it was being fought to create a better world.

But promises to us peasants are soon forgotten by political parties owned by the wealthy.
We often think of the refugee problem as a sign of what is wrong in places like the middle east. And the sense of much reporting is that the people of the affected region are the cause of the problems.

In fact, the problem is far, far wider than news reports tell us. It includes much of the middle east, Africa, South America....  And the people of those places are not the cause of the trouble. It was not Iraqis who invaded Iraq, not Syrians who invaded Syria. It was not the people of South America who created the civil wars and poverty that have forced people to flee to the U.S.

Western aggression, exploitation, murder are what have made large parts of the world into governmental chaos. We did it. And the chaos is transporting itself to the countries the hostages flee to. And, no, we have not killed millions to bring them democracy. We have done it for the financial benefit of a very small number of us.

Killing Afghanis and Yemenis and Iraqis and Congolese and Libyans will not solve the problem. Because the problem is not them. We are the ones who have made those countries dysfunctional. We are the ones who created the refugee problem that is tearing Europe apart. And, at best, it will take generations to undo the damage we have done.

And there is no sign are going to  attempt to undo it. Instead, we will fight more wars, and create more problems.
The United States has been at war for at least 16 years. (In reality, it has been at war with somebody almost every year since 1941.)  The excuse is the need to destroy terrorism. One problem with that is that the U.S. has become far the world's largest terrorist.

Nor can one ever defeat terrorism without attacking the cause of it. The terrorism by Jews in post war Palestine and Egypt was a product of the failure of the west to help European Jews before, during and after World War Two. Terrorism by Muslims is a product of severe abuse by western powers. Fighting terrorism creates more of it. If we want to stop it, we have to stop being abusers of other nations.

Every sign is that the U.S. wants a war - a world war.
I have followed Karl Nerenberg's reporting and analysis for over forty years. A Canadian journalist working out of Ottawa, he's one of the best.

Canada should be distancing itself from the U.S. now. Following the U.S., even quietly as Trudeau is doing, will simply drag Canada into the horror the U.S. political and business leaders are creating.

But Trudeau will be a good dog, and follow his master.
As most Canadians should know, the battle to destroy medicare in Canada is on. And the Trump government is passing on its ignorance to us.
Here's a story we don't hear often. Anne Frank could be taken by the Naziis to be killed at a death camp because the U.S. turned down her request for a visa. From the rise of Hitler to some years after the war, it was a standard practice for the U.S., Canada, Britain and many other (Christian) countries not to allow Jews in. I knew a Jewish couple in Montreal who got out of Berlin in 1937 only by paying a large bribe to Canadian immigration.

Did those countries know what was happening to the Jews? Of course they did, right from the start. And the majority of Canadians supported keeping Jews out.
American families are suffering downward mobility. Trump says that's due to refugees and other foreigners. Actually, it's due to people closer to home.
This warning is from a Canadian site that looks promising.
The US has spent very, very heavily on a fleet and weaponry that are primarily intended for the Pacific. But most of the news media seem no to have noticed - or to worry about it.
There has been an economic decline in the US. Of course, it can't possibly be caused by the rich. As my local paper daily reminds me, the rich create wealth for everyone. Still, something is happening.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Feb. 25: Hitler has never left us.

What can one say?  Trump is a Hitler. And I don't say that lightly. He appeals to racism. He poses as the man of the people while he really does nothing for them - except to satisfy their prejudices. While he speaks of his concern for 'the people', he announces he'll be cutting taxes for the very rich. And he talks of destroying obamacare - while not showing he has any alternative in mind.

Like Hitler, he poses as the friend of the common people. (Hitler even called himself a socialist though his policies, like those of Trump, had no trace of socialism in them. And, like Trump, his major policies are designed to benefit the wealthy.)

Trump is a Hitler. That's not name calling. That's a reality. But there's nothing unusual about that. Like Hitler, he's the product of an economic system that has always used the poor and the middle class to fight their wars to make the rich richer. And the device to pull in votes has been to focus on creating fears and hatreds of 'evil' people.

In general, the policies of Trump are essentially the same as those of almost every U.S. president of the last century and more. (General Eisenhower was an honorable exception.) In particular, Trump is a natural follower of the policies of Bush (father and son), Clinton and  even Obama.

How will Canada react to this? It will do as it always has - what Trudeau is doing now - as little as possible.

So, of course, I turned for guidance to our Christian churches. And I found the answer in my local paper with its Saturday sermonette, "Only God determines when you die."

The sermonette is aimed at those who believe in permitting suicide with medical assistance. No, no, no, says the writer. Only God is the giver of life, and only He can end it.

I won't argue that point. Let's just follow it to its logical conclusion. We have been ending human lives with our wars for uncounted millenia. Just since 1945, we have killed men, women, children, babies with bombs, poison gas, napalm, starvation, death in the wilderness and death on the seas of those fleeing our wars. Perhaps the good reverend will write a column about that.

But, no, he won't.

Yes, Trump is a Hitler who exploits racism to murder vast numbers of people. You will find many, many such Hitlers in this world. And, commonly, our religious leaders have supported such people.
I guess the next story had to happen. Significantly, one of the newspapers barred at a Trump press conference is The Guardian which, despite some recent flaws, is still the most honest of the world's major news media.
And, in a pleasant contrast....
And here is a  story you will never, ever find in the irving press.

Take note of the sums of money involved. Does that give a hint of why poverty is rising all over the world?
The next item has a heavy bias. I admit to having the same bias.
Here's a similar account - with the addition of the meaning of this for aboriginal rights in both Canada and the U.S.  The reality is that neither Canada nor the U.S. has taken significant steps to undo the damage they have done to aboriginal peoples. There have been lots of speeches - but no substance. This is all made worse by a steady shrinkage of the income and land ownership of almost all people in North America.

That is going to cause trouble. And, instead of trying to head off the crisis, our political leaders are putting their efforts into feeding the greedy. Our society won't survive that.
Climate change is with us in a big way. The purpose of government should be to serve the needs of the whole society. We have never achieved that. What has grown instead is the idea that if we make the rich richer, they will create jobs, and the prosperity will trickle down to us. But if that were true, we would have been rolling in luxury for the last fifty years. Instead, the reverse has been true.
Democracy went off track when it became government by the very wealthy who pay the bills for election campaigns. That's why measures that benefit most people - like medicare - are under constant attack. And that's why the irving press features commentaries that support the attacks.

The very wealthy have huge investments in fossil fuels. That's why we get stories that climate change is
 a hoax. So the Antarctic ice is melting? Well, we just won't talk about that.

Capitalism is based on competition. Survival is based on cooperation. Survival and capitalism just don't go together.
When I was in my teens, Russia was evil because it was communist. Funny thing, though. Russia is  no longer communist, not by any definition of that word. It's capitalist, just like us. And it's largely Christian, just like us. But it's still evil.

Go figure.

China was evil because it was said to be communist too.  Now China is capitalist - but it's still evil. What's going on here?

What's going on is that these opinions have nothing to do with good and/or evil. They have everything to do with the struggle for economic dominance. And there are no good guys in that one, not on their side, and not on our side.
While Trump campaigned by appealing to the average American, his government has been busy serving the interests of the wealthy. For one thing, he's cutting back on those nasty regulations which get in the way of even bigger profits.
Canada, at least, would never  have anything to do with torture.....well,  not much.....well nothing that it will talk about.
But Canada is alway such a good country....
Here's a British report on the Canada/EU trade deal. I have to use a  British report because our Canadian news media prefer to keep it a secret.
Proud Canadians now have their very own tax haven right at home. Interesting. And that couldn't happen without the help of the Canadian government.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Feb. 22: The American Empire: Decline and Fall.

Several days ago, the irving press ran a big story that a report from Amnesty International had accused Syria of the torture and murder of 13,000 Syrians. it was a story, given the small number and the bias of people who testified, seemed unlikely. And, since then,  Amnesty International has announced it was fake news produced by British intelligence.

But the irving press has never printed the correction.

And it won't.

Yesterday, a more reliable newspaper, Haaretz, announced an Amnesty International report that  Israel has been torturing  Palestinian children.
This one is real news. But the irving press doesn't have it.

And it won't.
 Often, the only commentary  worth reading in the irving press is the one by Alec Bruce. Today's is a painful exception. It deplores the current criticism of 'elites' in politics, business,  and universities for their leadership that some ,presumably misguided)  people say creates poverty, avoids taxes, and generally betrays the rest of us.

I'm sure the owner of the paper will pin that one on his wall.

Bruce uses this to attack  Trump for his encouraging of people to distrust the elites. Well, yes. It is wrong of Trump to encourage a simple hatred of elitism. But as Trump, himself, is a member of the financial elite, he is a member of the group Bruce says we should trust.

Alec Bruce can't have it both ways. He can't say the the elite are a superior group we should treasure - and then attack a member of that superior group for his poor leadership.

Yes, Trump exploits hatred and fear. But the business elite  (like him) and the news media and politicians and, yes, some people in the univesities, have been creating racial fears and hatreds for thousands of years. They have abused their power for their own gain. They have abused the people over whom they have power.  It's happened with kings and aristocracies and politicians and, yes, with business leaders. And it's not unknown for prominent academics to kiss asses. I've know more than a few of them.

Businessman Henry Ford was a cheerleader for Adolph Hitler. And there were lots of 'elites' on that side. Elites have encouraged hatreds so they could murder and abuse and loot people all over the world. And they still do it - with the help of the news media they own. That's why our news media are full of stories about how evil Muslims are. That justified the slavery and the murder of at least a hundred million Africans.

Donald Trump certainly encourages racism and hatred. He attacks a vague thing that he calls 'the establishment. But you'll notice he does not attack the wealthy. On the contrary, he wants to reduce the taxes that they aren't paying, anyway. And his cabinet is packed with the 'elite'.

Hitler was the same. He, too, attacked a very vague elite. But I notice that wealthy Germans were as Nazi as any others. The same was true of wealthy Italians under Mussolini.

There is nothing wrong with criticizing 'elites'. They do and always have done lots of damage. And they have always, like Trump, diverted anger by directing it to people of a different race or religion.

And it works.  Trump's daughter won the praise of Christians for reciting the Lord's Prayer at a political meeting. It's hard to imagine a greater hypocrisy. - unless, of course,you read the Faith Page of the  irving press on a Saturday.
The U.S. record in war since 1945 has been pretty dismal. It could, with help, tie but not defeat North Korea. It lost in humiliating fashion after a long war against Vietnam. After sixteen years  (the longest war in American history), it has not been able to defeat its opposition in Afghanistan. After   fourteen years, it is still bogged down in Iraq. It was unable to defeat Libya. The war against small, poor and starving Yemen goes on. The U.S. cannot seem to win in Syria.
All of these countries are relatively small and poor. The idea, then, of an all-powerful U.S. defeating Russia and/or China is absurd, short of a nuclear war. Trump's seeming willingness to get along with Russia while attacking China is really no more realistic than American wars of the last 70 years have been.

But commercial greed beats logic every time.
O-o-o -o.... The American government says China is being provocative in building missile sites on Islands that it claims are Chinese in the South China Sea. Isn't it terrible what China is doing?

I mean, yes, the U.S. is installing missile sites all around China and Russia. But China and Russia are evil - and the U.S. is good. So that's okay.
We are facing a crisis all over the world that has been largely ignored. Changes in manufacturing have made the wages and working hours of seventy years ago impossible. Automation is drastically cutting away at jobs.

Papers like the irving press are not likely to give much of a damn about this. They're happy to see the corporation bosses saving money. And the labour unions have been pretty limp. But, as always, Scandinavians are showing some intelligence on the issue.

Unlike Moncton, there are cities in this world looking at what the future of urban development might be - and, perhaps, of what it has to be.
Our wars, almost always to satisfy greed, have quite horrible side-effects that rarely make the news.

So much for the glories of patriotism and serving one's country.
And let's hear it again for the Lord's Prayer.

I  wonder how American courts would rule if the Mexican border patrol shot an American who was across the border in the U.S.
Here's one that sounds extreme - and is. It's also right.
We read a lot about war heroes. Here's a story about  one of their victims.
Canadians recently have made much of their broad-mindedness and lack of racism. And that's a crock. Canadians have always been anti-somebody based on race - Ukrainians, Jews, Italians, Irish, Syrians, Africans, native Canadians,....I grew up in a Montreal in which the English, in the most respectable circles, were taught to hate the French, and the French, even by their Catholic clergy, were taught to hate the English. I knew a Montreal policeman who was fired when the chief discovered his father was African-Canadian.

Toronto was just as bad. British Columbia was worse.  And Atlantic Canada was notorious even in racist circles for its bigotry.
You will note, by the way, that the item above appeared in Haaretz, which is a pretty good source.
And you can't tell who are our friends and who are our enemies without a programme.
The U.S. has been using poison gas and other forbidden weapons for many, many years. One result is the birth of children who lack eyes or, sometimes, a mouth.Most don't survive more than a year or two.The U.S., which falsely accused Iraq of having "weapons of mass destruction", is itself the world's leads purveyor of such weapons.
Unlike his father, Justin Trudeau is not a person who gives much of a damn for the average Canadian.  In fact, his thinking is closer to that of Harper.
The fight over oil pipelines is on the edge of getting very, very vicious. The American  government has made it clear it is prepared to push pipelines through, anyway. The Canadian government hasn't made it clear - but it will do the same.
As I write this, force is having its way, and the Standing Rock protestors are moving. But this is by no means the end.

The irving press has ignored it. That's because it has more important news like the development of pond hockey in New Brunswick.
Are you grateful to a wealthy person gives a tiny faction of his wealth to the poor - and then gets a "clap-clap-clap" high praise dinner from the chamber of commerce? Any money given to us by the wealthy comes from the money they took from us. And they take far, far more than they give.

For centuries, the wealthy have also used our tax money and our lives to support the wars that created - and still create - mass suffering in Africa, South America, and all over the world.  Now, they're taking even more.
Greed has always been with us. But the situation is worse now  than ever in history. Even the greedy, especially the greedy, are in absolute control - they think. But they aren't. The outstanding feature of the years since 1945 has been the failure of American power to conquer the world. And even drawing in the forces of the western world to help the U.S. has done nothing to change that.

For the killing of millions in Asia and Africa, the U.S. has created some astonishing messes and mass suffering. But it has consistently lost. In all those  years, the only decisive victory was the gallant American struggle against the mighty hordes of Grenada in 1983. That clear victory was so rare as to justify a movie with Clint Eastwood.  
The reality is that neither the U.S. nor the world can afford wars. Both the U.S. and the world need peace  But, historically, the greedy have never had the brains to recognize that.

And greed is the fundamental principal of capitalist economics.

(Except that in the irving press, it isn't called greed. It's called 'ambition').

Monday, February 20, 2017

Feb. 20: Not a good day.

I often begin my blog with something about the irving press (the newspapers of New Brunswick - all owned by the Irving family and dedicated to a mix of trivia and propaganda).

Today, Canada and World News is all of four pages. Almost all of one page is dedicated to stories about people who play hockey outdoors on frozen ponds in New Brunswick. So much for news of Canada and the World. And the rest is just as good - except....

An important story sneaked in. It seems that up to a year ago, Canadian planes were bombing Syria. Odd. I don't recall reading about that a year ago. Odder still, Canadian pilots are now spotting targets for American bombers. And that's kind of important.

I am a professor of Canadian history. For most of Canada's history, Canada was automatically at war when its imperial master, Britain, as at war. It might not actually participate; but it was, legally, at war.

The great moment of deliverance came in 1939. Britain went to war with Germany.  Canada delayed, quite deliberately, for a week to declare war. It did that to demonstrate that Canada was no longer a colony, but an independent nation. In future, it would go to war only with a vote in parliament.

But there was no vote to send our air force to Syria.  (or to Libya.) Funny how our news media missed that story. Our governments have violated a fundamental principal of our constitution. Sending aircraft to bomb or to spot targets for bombers is an act of war. We proud Canadians have illegally gone to war. It's illegal by Canadian law. It's illegal by international law because Syria is no possible threat to us. These are, in fact, war crimes, the very things we hanged Naziis for.

And it's a clear sign that Canada is not an independent nation. Despite what our history books tell us, Canada is now a colony of the American empire. We are now serving our imperial masters in Syria, Iraq, Eastern Europe, and at sea.  And watch for Trudeau to bring us even lower.

The irving press specializes in trivia. So how could it let such a story slip through? Well, the editors are loyal to their master. But they aren't intellectually swift. And I doubt whether they know or understand anything about Canadian history. One of my professors wrote a book about it, "Colony to Nation". But a new book to bring us up to date would have to be called "Colony to Nation to Colony".

Oh! What's the big, lead World News story? New Brunswick will have to import road salt for next winter. Be still, my heart.

No wonder the people of this province vote for the hack lawyers of the Liberal and Conservative parties. No wonder the province's NDP produced a Dominic Cardy.
The new Canada European trade deal is heavily opposed in Europe. What do Europeans know that we don't? Canadians have been told next to nothing about this.

The truth is it's a typical trade deal designed by billionaires for billionaires. It will enable them to sue us if we do terrible things like protecting the environment. It is designed to destroy social programmes available to all of us, and to privatize them for the benefit only of the wealthy.

Expect to see commentaries in the irving press kissing up to this.
And here's a story about life - and death - for Palestinians at the hands of Israelis. I guarantee you will never see it in the irving press.
Nor are you likely to see this anywhere in the western press.
And this is a story that we will see repeated in a Canada under Trudeau or under a New Brunswick under Gallant or any other turkey likely to become premier.
The whole world is deep into the world crisis created by news media owned by the very wealthy, and used for their propaganda. It's true in Canada and the U.S. And it seems it's true in India.
The truth in the following item should be clear. But we aren't ever likely to find it in our usual, daily news media.

In the tangle, an uncountable number of wars are being fought. Some wars are against terrorists.  In some, we supply the terrorists with weapons. Some are fought simply for profit. Trump has one set of objectives. The CIA has another set. The military, in general, have another set. None of those objectives is clear.
The likely result? There will be a coup in the U.S. by one or more of the groups looking for power. The coup will be followed by some form of dictatorship. Whether the U.S., as a whole, will survive that I don''t know. But be assured. Even the pretence of democracy is over. And even the survival of the U.S. is open to question.
You will find a similar note in the next item.
Watch for the appearance of the American army at Standing Rock and other sites. And where that will take us is anybody's guess.
I don't like Donald Trump. I also think he's far, far beyond his depth. But he's a sweetheart compaired to his political and journalistic enemies. He actually wants peace with Russia - ooooh - isn't that evil?  He beat the corrupt and murderous and lying people in politics and business and journalism by speaking directly to the people. He knew he wasn't going to win hearts and minds among the thugs who have been running the U.S.. So he took his message to the people. That's why he won.

The  Wall Street crowd and the Washington insiders saw him as a threat. That's why the press made him a target from the start. He knew he could never win their support. So his response has been to continue speaking directly to the people.
Some of his ideas make a lot of sense. Peace with Russia makes sense. Reorganization of international economics makes sense. But they don't make sense to insiders who have run the U.S. for over a century, with a lying press to provide coverage for them.

They have left Trump alone in areas in which he is clearly dangerous on a world scale - his attitude to climate change is one of those. That's because the insanely greedy can see only what they want - and what they want is the profits to be made in destroying this planet.

Where does this take us? My guess is this takes us to the crash of America and its empire - with what damage to all of us is beyond the reach of guessing.
Trudeau, despite kind words in the Canadian press, is pretty much a twit on the world stage.
Here's a British view of the Canada/Europe trade deal. I can't' find a Canadian view. (Canada is a lot like the U.S. on this 'truth' thing.)
It has not been a happy day. What's obvious now is that there are only two sides of any importance in the U.S. There are the deluded who support Trump. And there is an even larger  group of the deluded who think the Washington establishment has to be defended.

The only sign of a third possibility is those who demand environmental action. But they do not constitute a general addressing of the swamp of corruption that distinguishes American political life.

Whatever happens now is almost certain to be destructive of the U.S. And probably of more than the U.S.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Feb. 17: Greed and stupidity - the fatal combination.

Recently, I tried to estimate the number of people killed by the U.S. since 1945.  It's difficult because the U.S. has not been eager to release any numbers. But there are some numbers we can use with confidence.

I knew some very capable researchers who had been looking at the numbers for Vietnam. They came to something in the order of seven million. Iraq? According to the U.S. government hardly anybody was killed. According to highly respected magazine "The Lancet", that hardly anybody was one and a half million.

There are no reliable figures for Afghanistan - and virtually no reporting on it. But the war has been going on for some 15 years. Official figures range from 21,000 to 150,000. Neither figure is believable. This war, like all  recent wars, is carried on by the U.S. with very, very heavy bombing, aimed primarily at civilans. The U.S. has been bombing for 15 years, making this the longest bombing campaign in history.

The war in Syria, financed and sometimes fought by the U.S., again with heavy bombing of civilians, is anybody's guess for casualties. Something in the neighbourhood of a half million is suggested.

The U.S. dropped 2 and a half million tons of bombs on Cambodia, making it the most heavily bombed country in history. (The bombing was planned at the oval office after the Sunday church service.) Unexploded bombs are still exploding today with an estimated 4 million people killed. Laos suffered almost as  heavily. It was a deliberate attempt to destroy not just the people but, as air force chief Curtis Lemay said, to send that part of the world back into the stone age.

Nobody knows how many have been killed by drones. We do know that by now there have been many thousands of drone raids with a very high proportion of innocent civilians killed. Drones have been widely used in Africa and Asia.
Yemen has been bombed heavily, commonly by aircraft of Saudi Arabia, equpped with bombs from the U.S., and guided by American systems.

With troops, bombers, drones, assassination squads the U.S. has attacked some 70 countries since 1945. (Occasionally with Canadian  help).  Not one of those countries had threatened the U.S. or was even capable of threatening it.   (And no, there is not the slightest evidence that the government of Afghanistan had anything to do with 9/11. In fact, the strongest evidence points to our good friends in Saudi Arabia.)

How many dead have there been so far? I don't know. refugees from these wars are in the high tens of millions. How many of those tens of millions have died of starvation, disease, exposure, drowning. (Hundreds died of drowning, for example,  as they fled from the relatively short war in Libya.) How many children left orphaned have died? How many will die in the refugee camps of Europe?

Who benefitted from these wars? The American people? No. Their dead were relatively few - but the wars did nothing whatever to benefit or protect the average American. The only ones to benefit were the world's corporations that gobbled up ever more of this world's wealth and resources.

How many were murdered? A very conservative guess would be 20 million, the majority of them civilians. But we'll never know the whole number. And we can be sure the irving press will never tell us. In fact, on a daily reading of it, one would never know that most of these wars ever happened.

And you know what Canada's miinister of defence said this week? He said we have to prepared to offer help to the U.S. more in its military efforts.

Germany lost World War Two. But Hitlerism won. We have become everything Hitler was - and even more.  We torture. Our governments spy on us.  We kill for economic conquest. We are destroying democracy to give ever more power to the wealthy. And theres's no end to it all because there is no end to the greed of the wealthy.

We fought World War Two, so we were told, to defend four freedoms. Freedom of speech. Freedom of Worship. Freedom from want. Freedom from fear.
That's why our grandfathers and fathers were told they were fighting for.  And we have betrayed them on every point.

Freedom of speech in New Brunswick doesn't exist - because people are afraid to use it. And that's true of much of the western world.

Freedom of religion is dying all over the western world - unless you're a Christian, particularly if you're a Christian whose only interest is in getting yourself into heaven - without giving much of a damn about the rest of Christian principle.

Freedom from want? Want is actually on the rise. We've done almost nothing about it in the last seventy years. (Medicare was an exception. But billionaires are now busy destroying it.)

Freedom from fear? Please.

On Nov. 11, we should remember the sacrifice of those who served. We should also remember how we betrayed the promises we made to them. And members of the Canadian Legion should put down their beers for a moment to think of that.

As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy. And he is us."
My, that was long. Sorry.

But none of the above has ever made our local newspapers. In today's irving press, there is no killing going on anywhere in the world. Over half of the local news section  is used to tell us we had a blizzard yesterday. Actually, I think most people noticed that at the time.

Then there is a big, big story that Trump gave a 'jaw-dropping' press conference yesterday.  The story is from The Canadian Press, and it's full verbal attacks on Trump. It says he spoke "Flat-out falsehoods", "personal grievances".
The story is NOT a report of what Trump said. Instead, it's a personal attack on him.

That's bad journalism. A reporter tells us what hwppend. We decide if it's jaw-dropping or lying. A news story tells  us what happened. It does not tell us what to think about it. That's a fundamental rule of journalism. Too bad the irving editors don't know the fundamental rules.

If the paper has an opinion about it, that goes on the editorial and comment pages. Too bad those are cluttered up with the Norbert Cunninghams and editorial drones of the irving press.
Here is the same story in The Guardian. But it's offered clearly as an opinion. (Too bad The Guardian also has a story on the same subject that is as bad as the one in the irving press.
This is a long story.But I found it was one that roused an excitement in me. And read it to the end because the last part is on the impact of oil on huge and productive undersea world.
Our news media  haven't told us much about CETA, our new trade deal with Europe. We are  told regularly that it's "wunnerful, wunnerful, wunnerful". Actually, it isn't - unless you happen to be a billionaire. Actually, it's takeover of power that's a fundamental blow to democracy. But it's good if you're a billionaire.
The holocaust that murdered over 5 million Jews has had a long term effect.  Judaism, in my experience, has a long history of compassion for others, and for intelligent action. My experience of the Jewish community in Montreal was one that impressed me with the breadth of its concern for others and it's intelligent and generous action in dealing with that concern. When I was 1 7 or so, I was a preacher at a very poor, mission church in Montreal's read light district. One thing I learned early was that if I needed to get free food for some of the congregation,  I should go to the Jewish-owned stores, not the Christian ones.

But when Hitler turned loose his holocaust, he destroyed not only millions of people, but he destroyed much of the character of Judaism.   I see little of that Judaic principle of compassion in Israel. And none at all in a Netanyahu.
We are the ones who ignored the holocaust while it was happening. Now, we are the ones who are making the Palestinians - who had nothing to do with it -  pay for it.      

It's a terrible thing to see today's Jews acting like Christians.
It is quite possible that Trump has created a disaster for himself as well as for the rest of the country. And his personal disaster will be a disaaster for the whole world as real power shifts to a group that General Eisenhower rightly defined as the greatest danger facing the U.S.
The following story may not look important. But it gives a hint of a great change that is happening. Big money has always had enormous power. But we are entering a new phase in which big money has more than just influence with government. It owns government. And it is moving to destroy any power that government  has over it. CETA is an example. We are moving into a stage - almost certainly a fatal one - when big money will be the ONLY power. Here's a sample of it.
Alastair Cooke is a pretty good source. He takes a look at the plan to overthrow Trump, a plan laid out by White House insiders. The trouble is they're even worse than he is. And there's no remedy in sight because American people have no sense of what their government is about, of who controls it, and no concept of any alternative. They're been overcooked by blind patriotism.
This is not a short term crisis. This is a crash.
The popular western view of the Ukraine crisis is pure bunk. The crisis was not created by Russia. It was created by the U.S.
This article examines the idiocy of our common reaction to Yemen's recent attack on a Saudi warship. Evil. Evil. Evil.  ( Saudi has for the past year been murdering uncounted numbers of Yemenis. But there's no criticism of the Saudis.  Us humans are remarkably stupid.)
I have yet to find an intelligent article on why Latins are crossing from Mexico into the U.S. It's actually something that could be stopped without building a wall.

The reason they try to cross the border is because their countries are poor and brutalized and evironmentally destroyed  by American capitalists. The capitalists can do that because they have the support of the American army which has been invading their countries, murdering either is mass killings or with special ops, destroying democratic governments for well over 150  years. That's South Americans flee to the U.S., to escape the terror and poverty and suffering that American capialists  inflict on them.

(They don't know that American workers are next on the list.)

In the face of all this, Canada's minister of defence has recently said we must give full support to American military actions. Yes - as we sent troops to Afghanistan (to stop it from sending its mighty navy and air force to attack the U.S. As we  sent our air force to kill those vicious Libyans. As we send troops to Iraq and Syria to train and guide those who fight those terrible terrorists (who are actually supplied and paid for by the U.S.).

Canadians are loyally  helping our great friend to fight countries to0 small and weak to attack us. And we do it to help the only country that ever HAS attacked us.

It's good for business.
Israel, for such a small country, has managed to become a major violator of human rights and international law. I have only rarely, very rarely, seen a news item critical of Israel's behaviour. That's because the "Israeli Lobby" has taken over control of many Jewish community organizations, and uses them for propaganda, and for attacking anyone who criticizes Israel.

I know that well. For fifteen years, I spoke on current events every month to a Jewish group that numbered 200 to 300. I was sometimes critical of Israel. For the most part the group agreed with me. But the fix was on.

As soon as I retired, I was replaced by a local boss of the Israeli lobby. (But he soon lost most of his audience.) Earlier he had me fired from a daily radio job I had done for 15 years. And he got the station to replace me with him. (He soon lost that audience, too.)

It's not a sin to criticize Israel. A recent polll shows that well over half of Canadians are highly critical of its behaviour- and fewer than a quarter support it.
And here are some facts about Canada you won't read or hear about in your local news media.
News of the fighting in the Iraq city of Mosul has been scarce in recent weeks. This may explain why.

U.S. aggression has created enemies for the U.S. all over the world. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to see how the U.S. can sustain the disaster what was always in sight but has been blindingly obvious for the last 16 years. With or without Trump, it looks very much as if the U.S. is dead meat.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Feb. 15: Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes.

(Bow, bow,ye tradesmen
Bow ye masses..

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan)

When I worked in Hong Kong, it was ruled with absolute power by a governor appointed by the British. I never met him. But I did know his secretary, also an Englishman, and also with enormous power. One day, he decided that the people of Hong Kong would not be permitted to see the film "Shampoo". I asked the secretary why.

His answer was simply that he disapproved of it. So nobody was allowed to see it. So that was it. An Englishman with a high school education had the power to decide what millions of Chinese could see - or not see. He was, after all, an Englishman.

I thought of that as I walked along the evening streets of Hong Kong. Thousands of Chinese lived on those streets, whole families down to babies sleeping on bits of  cardboard. There were no English among them. They were at their pricey clubs.

Months later, I would have supper with an immensely wealthy couple.And for two hours, the wife, born rich and married rich, poured out her contempt and hatred for those who weren't rich - a category that included me. (Her husband had the decency to be embarrassed.)

Years later, I met her daughter who never did a thing in her life, but who inherited a pile, and who became a senator  because she was rich, and prime minister Harper liked rich people. Her brother became a speech writer for George Bush Jr., speeches full of contempt for the foreign poor that Bush was murdering and starving.

Us humans are like that. We're programmed to hate those we abuse. That's why so many Americans (and Canadians) blame Muslims for getting killed or drowned fleeing from homes that the U.S. is bombing.

That's why the rich hate the poor, the almost rich (like the Chamber of Commerce) love the rich but blame the unrich for not being rich.  And that's why even the poor commonly have contempt for the destitute.

Power is justified by contempt and hatred for those who don't have wealth. But if Mexicans were rich, Trump would have taxiis at the border for them.   And if we had not impoverished Muslims by destroying their lands and stealing their resources, we would now be scrambling to house refugees families instead leaving them to suffer the winter in tents or, as many refugee children must , under bushes and on streets. Yesterday, France began piling boulders under bridges to stop refugees from taking shelter under them. (Aren't the churches of France lovely?)

But no, we don't blame our billionaires for creating refugees. We blame the refugees. That's because we are a superior people.
The irving press continues to beat the drums for privatization of health care. After all, private ownership costs less. Right. That's why it can cost a million dollars to have a baby in the U.S. (Yes, it did in a recent case). The rich and their propaganda newspapers won't be satisfied until our health system is destroyed.    
And we accept it because we are daily reminded of how useless we are in comparison to the rich.  

Let's hear it for the chamber of commerce for honouring the rich who, deservedly, keep us ordinary slobs poor.    
Why post this story of Russia violating an arms treaty? I pose it because the U.S. has already violated it many, many times with nuclear missiles and other weapons. But I've seen precious little criticism of it in our news media when the U.S. does it.
Here's a background to the Ukraine crisis that I know is true because I've already read most of it from reliable sources. But I sure haven't seen it in the private news media.
Is there a danger in getting only news that is propaganda? Well,  yes.

Of course, the U.S. is the biggest danger to world peace.  It has the largest and most expensive armed forces. It has them deployed all over the world, and right up to the borders of Russia and China. Neither Russia nor China has shown anything close to that sort of aggression.

Neither China nor Russia is in any position to gain from a world war. The U.S. has everything to gain because in a decade or two it may well fall behind Russia and China.
We are into a period of the greatest and most rapid change in world history. If we allow the wealthy to control that change (and we are allowing that) we face catastrophe. It's catastrophe with many faces, and with one that I have not seen much discussion of. We are on the edge of extensive automation of industry, for example
That could, and probably will, mean tremendous layoffs and suffering. Instead, what it could mean is a shorter work week - but big business, in all its history, has never shown the brains to recognize that. About 1900, we worked a long, long day, and a week that was commonly six days and even seven. Wages were low, and lay-offs frequent.

That didn't change until World War Two as unions gradually forced shorter hours, benefits, and the five day week on a reluctant business world. (And please don't feed me that lying crap that Ford pioneered high salaries out of his business sense. That story is pure myth that should make no sense to any thinking person. In fact, the unions forced those salaries on Ford who was as greedy and grasping as anybody else with financial power.)

Automation is here. What are we going to do? Don't wait for the billionaires to decide that.

But planning for social benefit has never been a strong point for the wealthy.
******This is  important**********
Some stories take a long time to get out. And even then, you won't find them in the NY Times or even the irving press.  The reality is that we, in the west, have been thorough bastards, liars and killers for several centuries.

The seven million murdered in Vietnam should not come as a surprise. It's been known to scholars for many years. It reminds us that Hitler was a natural product of a capitalist society. And he certainly wasn't the last one.
And Trudeau has betrayed us on climate change - as has our provincial premier Gallant, and our irving press.
Don'ts expect Trudeau to do much about protecting Canadian rights. And don't expect our news media to notice it at all.

Welcome to the American Empire (northern division).
Here's an account of the dangers we are facing - not just from Trump but from the corporate bosses who control our society.

A sample of the opinion of corporate bosses can be found every day in the editorial column of our irving press. Today's editorial wants to save money  by cutting funding to our universities.

Funny thing. A country like Cuba, made poor by U.S. interference in its economy, can not only fund excellent universities, but can make them free of fees. But relatively wealthy Canada and the U.S. can't. (I well remember the long and bare years of paying off my student loans for seven years of university.)
Maybe its time for the irving press to do an editorial on why rich Canada cannot do what poor Cuba can do.

Or maybe we could have an editorial on who isn't paying taxes, and how much that costs us.

Meanwhile, Trump is cutting taxes for corporations. Not that it matters since so many of them are not paying taxes in the first place.
Here's a reminder of what happens when you privatize  health care. The pharmaceutical industry has a long history of gross overpricing. That's true in both Canada and the U.S.
Here's a reaction of Trudeau to the killing of Muslims that you won't find in any Canadian newspaper.
I enclose this copy of Russia Today not for any story in particular but for any of the sort of lies you can find every day in western, privately-owned news services.
I don't think you'll find any.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Feb. 13: A curse: May you live in interesting times.

One of the most vivid memories of my childhood was Picasso's painting of the German bombing of Guernica. This was in the Spanish civil war of the 1930s in the fascist general Franco over threw the elected government of Spain . It's a picture of the horror of bombing deliberately aimed at defenceless civilians.  (Guernica had no soldiers in it, and no value whatever as a military target.) This was an early example of the terror bombing that has become standard practice for ever country with an adequate bomber force.

Britain, France, the U.S., Canada made no complaint That's because they supported the fascists in that war, the same fascists we were later told  were evil. When Canadians volunteered to fight against the fascists in Spain, they were branded by the Canadian government as traitors, and a threat to Canada.

How soon we forget.
But the lesson of Guernica as a cheap and easy way of war sank home. The bombing of civilians, quite deliberately to terrorize them by the scale of murder, became standard practice in World War Two, culminating in the fire-bombing of civilians in Tokyo, and then by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The U.S. government had learned (in a lesson that would be rubbed home in the Vietnam war) that the American public would not tolerate any heavy loss of life in war. And though they killed millions of civilians in Vietnam, they were aghast that the Vietnamese had the nerve to kill thousands of Americans. And so it was that the war of the future would be a war of massive bombing of civilians, preferably in countries that had no significant defence against air attack. And so there followed the massive bombing of Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Lebanon.   (Actually, it had already bombed and killed one-third of the whole population of North Korea.)

And now it has been delightfully refined with the drone bombers whose pilots risk only traffic tie-ups on their drives to work. And all get medals and march in parades and are heroes for defending the US (and Britain and Germany and other countries) against countries which didn't (and can't) attack them.

But, oh, those Muslims are evil. We know that, just as Hitler's Germany knew that the government of Spain was evil. But in real terms, the most evil people in  terms of inflicting death and misery over the past fifty years have been Christians - like the two George Bushes, and Obama, and, I'm sure, Trump.  (And it would have been no different with Clinton).

Hitler lost the war. But his ideas and values have survived in us.
Air pollution has reached severe danger levels in much of the world. But don't worry. Oil companies will bomb it.
This story about crossing the U.S. border is pretty disgusting. But there's a better one that I have lost somewhere. Thanks to the generous spirit of our liberal government, U.S. border guards are pemitted to enter Canada, and to investigate people before they even get to the border. That's what happens when you're a colony, and your government accepts that.
This is the kind of story we should be paying much, much more attention to. The handing over of powers to big business is effectively destroying democracy - and us. It gets laws passed that allow it to escape taxation which, ultimately damages education, health and the whole range of services that people require. Business is, and long has been, the force to decide who we will kill and, in the cost of killing, uses the money we need for basic services.

The people we send off to die in wars to make profits higher are the same ones we say are 'serving their country'.

The very wealthy are also setting deals which make it impossible to deal with environmental issues.

The wealthy, in short, are allowed to run free with no obligation except to themselves and their own greed.
Here's a story that has captured very little attention in the North American press.

What the writer doesn't understand, of course, is the importance of killing women and children and civilians in Yemen in order to prevent them from invading the U.S.
Here is a criticism that happens to apply to most of the brainless columns in the irving press and, indeed, most of the western press.
This is the article about the great change that is happening in our time. And it's another trade deal. We are on the edge of a world run by the wealthiest of business leaders. They always have been influential. They are now heading for total and independent power.

Think of that - a world run by people of no morality, and with a worship only of money. Nor are they people of any marked intelligence.

Quite apart from their greed, these people are too stupid to direct a society. Donald Trump is not just a clown. He's a sample of the world we are drifting into.

As a very small example of this, the government of New Brunswick has handed over hospital food services to a private company.  The irving press went wild with joy, and people who don''t know anything about the subject but who know which rear ends to kiss wrote ecstatic columns about how the food would now be better and cheaper. It won't be.

Even a fool should realize that operating the service PLUS producing a profit for a private company is going to cost us more. Even a fool would know that. But we get our news from damn fools, the worst kind.

In Britain and the U.S. similar interventions have led to renting prisons and police forces and schools from private contractors. And things are worse. Not better.
This is Guernica. We are the Naziis.
Hey! If you don't believe our billionaires and the news media and the politicians they own, who can you believe?
We are at a point of stunning change in world history. And I doubt very much that the wealthy will stop short of killing (us, among others) to get what they want.
Canada has elected a prime minister whose only talent is that he wears a suit well, and his only useful skill is that he can teach waterboarding.  (And the Conservatives are worse.)
The United states conquered The Phillipines over a hundred years ago. But it did not bring democracy, and it did not bring prosperity. It brought dictatorship, and it brought capitalism that produced a society deep in poverty. That's exactly what British and other west European imperialism brought to China for a over a century. That's what they brought to most of Africa. That's what the U.S. brought to South America.

Capitalism does not bring democracy or prosperity to anybody but the very wealthy. And we're not on the list.
Special operations troops are assassins who don't ask questions about who they're killing. That, in some circles, makes them heroes who serve their country.

Canadians will note that Canada is one place where they 'served'. That was probably to train Canadian assassins. But who knows for sure?
Our situation was not created by Trump. I'm not sure it has even been made worse by him.  The U.S. has been on the greatest, most violent and most greedy orgy of power for the wealthy for a very long time. It's so bad, I'm not convinced Trump can make it worse.
I found no items dealing with the drive to make abortions illegal. It has, of course, the support of self-righteous Christians who cheer for the murder of Muslim babies. And, like all the self-righteous, they are ignorant of the fact that legal or illegal, abortion always thrives. It has for thousands of years.  All that is happening now is that we are returning to the days when a great many women suffered death or severe illness from amateur and self-inflicted abortions. But those Christians don't give a damn for either the women or the babies. All they care about is their own self-righteousness.

And these are the same Christians who clap hands for their heroes who murder Muslim civilians by the million - and will be quite happy to murder Chinese and, maybe, Russian Christians.
And sometimes there's a good word for Trump.
The story of the killing of Muslim in a Quebec mosque may be more complex than we have been told.

In any case, expect U.S. pressure on Canada to get tougher with Muslims. We've been through this routine with the U.S. before. That's why we now have our very own gestapo - just like the U.S.
And if you want to know what's happening in Israel, you have to read Haaretz.
And this one is by General Eisenhower, in many respects the most underestimated president the U.S. has had.

"This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. . . . We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron." - President Dwight Eisenhower  The "Chance For Peace" speech April 16, 1953
We are in very great danger. We are in danger around the world because of the greed of our business leaders. We are in danger of that just in Canada as well.   We need politicians with the brains and courage to recognize that. The NDP has to move markedly to the left. The Greens have to realize that the environment is not the only problem.

And the liberals and conservatives?  Sigh....

New Brunswickers have to shake off their fear, and think and speak openly. And there's not much time to do it.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Li-ar, li-ar. Pants on fi-re.....

The Moncton Times and Transcript of Feb. 10  has a superb journalistic example of lying proganda. And it's right up front on page 1.

It all began several days ago when the government announced it was  handing over hospital food services to a private company. On that same day, the editor and Norbert  Cunningham both almost wet their pants with joy, writing columns in praise of this decision. (I think it's a very safe guess that neither the editor nor Cunningham knows anything about the subect.)

On Feb. 10s first page, there's a big story with the headline that the premier has dismissed questions about this that were raised by the CEO or the province's health services. Whoa! Hold on. If there's a complaint about this privatization, shouldn't that be tne main topic of the paragraph? And then the premier's response?

But no. The Times and Transcript starts with a headline that emphsizes the response of the government, not the complaint of the CEO. That effectively destroys the real story from the start. In fact, Half the story is not about the CEO.  It's about the premier's response.

Why is that terrible? It's terrible because a) large numbers of people never read past the headline and the first paragraph and b) the headline sets a  mood which destroys the impact of the CEO's complaint and c) since over half the story is about the premier's response, the real story is effectively buried.

This is bad journalism. This is lying journalism. This is propaganda journalism. And, no, don't blame the reporter. The form used in a story and the printing of a story is up to an editor, not othe reporter. So all we know about this issue is a brief criticism from the CEO, plus more than two and a half columns devoted to drivel about how privatizing will save money.

Come off it, you twits. Privatizing hospital services almost invariably raises costs. We now have to pay not only for the food and its preparation, we also have to pay for the private company's profits. Worse, that private company will almost certainly hide its profits from any taxation. So that becomes yet another cost for the rest of us.

For all the juvenile babbling and kissing up by the editorial writer and Cunningham and from the paper in general, this a just one more stepping up of the attack on our health system by some very greedy people.

There is just no limit to the degree the Times and Transcript (and the liberal premier and the conservative party) will prostitute themselves for the greedy.
Today, February 11, the TandT has a cartoon and an editorial attacking the provincial government for running up a deficit. It doesn't even look at the possibility that the wealthy of this province have created the deficit by hiding their money from  taxation.  But there's no way anybody at that paper would have the integrity or guts to say that.
It's going to be worth following the story of pipeline resistance at Standing Rock. This could shatter the traditional tone of American political thinking.
Just this week, news media carried the big story of the Syrian government's slaughterhouse where at 13,000 syrians were hanged while others died or torture. As I wrote at the time, even the most simple-minded cub reporter should have questioned that story. The sources were small in number, were in no position to keep such a detailed record, and were usually biased. Journalists should have realized that. But they ran the story. Now, Amnesty International, which announced the story, is admitting it has NO evidence. None. Nada.
That's fake news. And it didn't come from social media. It came from our professional media - like our local Times and Transcript. Will they now print the correction?

Of course not.
The man who  attacked a mosque in Quebec and murdered Muslims at worship was, of course, a terrorist. He was also, nominally at least, a Christian and a Canadian citizen. The news media have not paid much attention to that part of the story. Nor have they seen the meaning of it.
Here's news of a war which has been a more than usually terrible one but which has received almost no attention from western news media.
Here's another story on the war our world largely ignores.
Here's a war we should have learned from. But our news media barely ever mentioned it.
And we have the real terrorists....
I became impatient and annoyed going through the day's news. It is obsessed with Donald Trump. Why am I annoyed?

Yes, he's more than a bit of clown. But his policies are not very different from those of Obama or Bush or Bill Clinton. (No, they aren't. Indeed, many of them would have been quite acceptable to George Washington. He wants to build a wall to keep out Mexicans? Heck, one of his predecessors invaded Mexico, murdering its people so speculators could steal half the country. In all of North America, no country has escaped American aggression and greed. Canadians recently observed the hundredth anniversary of the War of 1812. But the Canadian government and the news media made it all seem cutesie.)

The U.S. has a long history (very much like that of Britain and France and Spain) of killing and plundering. It has a long history of hysteria in suppressing free expression. (Have we all forgotten the Senator Joe McCarthy witch hunts.) It has murdered millions to fill the pockets of the wealthy.

Trump will deport refugees? Who do we think created those refugees in the first place? Who was it that made their countries into  hell-holes?

The problem is not Trump. He's a clown who makes it all obviously bizarre; but the behaviour of U.S. governments has not changed since 1776. It's increasingly brutal in its killing; but it's been killing for over 240 years.

And it's been doing the killing to please the very wealthy - those bloodsuckers who cling to the flesh of all of us. That's the problem. It's not Trump. Replacing him with Hillary Clinton would change nothing. Replacing Republicans with Democrats would change nothing.

And the capitalists don't even know how to conquer effectively. American foreign policy has spread death and ruin over much of the world to satisfy the greed of its banks and oil companies and other destructive forms of capitalism. But even in financial terms, the return for the American people has been far, far less than the cost.

Trump has certainly attracted opponents. But so what? Many, perhaps most, of those opponents are the people who cheered and have been cheering for 70 years as the U.S. air force has dropped countless tons of bombs on civilians, hospitals and schools. It dropped more bombs on Laos alone, deliberately targeting civilians, than it had in all of World War Two.

Propagandized by years of hyper-patriotism, holdings hands on hearts, and asking God to bless America as it murders and exploits all over the world - including in the United States itself - the U.S. has failed to develop alternative political and economic systems. That's why it clings to a political system that gives all power to billionaires, the power that enables them to loot not only the most helpless of nations, but the United States as well.

The rot runs deeper and wider than Trump. It runs even to the most self-righteous of Christian churches whose followers massively supported Trump. (And Canadian churches give little sign of being any better.)

Enough news about Trump the clown. The real problem is to be seen all over North American and Europe. The problem is all of us.

And we don't have much time to solve it.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Feb. 9: Okay. I'm in a bad mood.

We're hearing a lot about fake news lately. I saw a fine example of it on page B 5 of my local paper, The Moncton Times and Transcript, for Feb. 8, "Amnesty: Up to 13,000 hanged in Syria's slaughterhouse". (nice touch of horror and Christian righteousness there. Did you notice any of that in the tone of reports on the millions murdered by the the last fifty years or so?) The report is from The Associated Press, and it's full of loaded language -  the UN was horrified by the report, it says. That's odd.  When an American officer ordered the murder of some 800 civilians in Vietnam, he got just one night in jail - and that only because of a reporter who told the truth.  The U.S. has killed, starved innocent people by the millions. It has tortured thousands.  It  has financed the terrorist side in the war against Syria.

The orders for American torture of thousands of Afghanis and others came straight from President Bush. The Syrian stories are, it seems, 'chilling accounts.' But when Americans torture and murder----nothing happens. When Canadians murdered prisoners in World War Two, and the National Film Board mentioned that in "The Valour and the Horror", The Legion demanded it be covered up - and the Canadian news media cooperated fully in doing that.

Just about all armies torture. Just about all deliberately kill civilians. It's been that way for thousands of years. And yes, that's true of even the good guys on our side.

Our private news media avoid the subject when our side does it. But, like the Moncton Times and Transcript, it reports the story with something close to hysteria when the other side does it.

Private news media have been dishonest from their first appearance in the late nineteenth century. That's because they are owned by the wealthy, and their purpose is to spread propaganda for the wealthy. That's why the irving press prefers to ignore climate change. That's why it publishes 'commentaries' from propaganda houses financed by the wealthy - like The Fraser Institute and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. That's why it runs big stories about little, old ladies appearing in court for shoplifting chocolate bars - but never has a word about the taxes the wealthy don't pay.

I don't know what evil things Syria has been doing. (Though I do know that can't possibly become close to the murder and plundering this world this world has suffered to please the very wealthy. And I do know the only suffering the wealthy undergo is having to be honoured at dinners  hosted by fawning Chambers of Commerce.)

And what does all this have to do with fake news? The great purveyors of fake news in this world are the privately owned news media. And there are very, very few exceptions. They have published fake news since the British papers lied to make a hero out of Lord Baden Powell, one of the outstanding asses of British military history. At about the same time, William Randolph Hearst was lying in order to create a war with Spain.

Western news media jumped all over Mao for the brutalities of his rule in China. But where were they for the two decades that western puppet China Kai-Shek was doing even worse? And where were they for the more than a century when western powers were murdering, starving, exploiting the Chinese?

And our privately-owned news media lie every day. And today's story on Syria is almost certainly an example of that lying.

I don't know what Syria has been doing. But the report on Syrian torture and hanging makes little sense. There are, for a start, very few informants - and, for the most part, we know nothing about them. And that small number of informants gave us a reliable figure or 13,000 hangings? Please.

The number of victims is compared to a similar number in Aleppo, the city bombed by Russians. Interesting. But why not give us a figure for Syrians killed by American bombing. And why don't we get a figure for Syrians killed by ISIS and other groups financed, trained and supplied by the U.S.?

This is extremely sloppy reporting, deliberately so. And that makes it not just sloppy, but lying.

The writer below is certainly one who is opposed to American policies in general. But the questions he raises about this piece of reporting are well worth taking seriously.

This piece of fake news and its emotional note combined with a lack of evidence should be obvious even to a cub reporter. The appearance of this story in the  irving press tells us all there is to know about the quality of its editors.
Here, in New Brunswick, we get only two kinds of news from  the irving press - fake news and no news.
Today, the Moncton Times and Transcript set a new record of contempt for its readers. In all the news, there is not a single item from outside Canada. Apparently, nothing has happened in the whole world.
For several centuries, the British empire was adored (by the British) in the same way Americans adore the American empire. In reality, it was nothing but murderous, thieving and degrading - just like the American empire. And it exploited and degraded its own people - just like the American empire does.
Today, Britain has to settle for being a lap dog for the U.S. empire.


God bless America. God save the Queen.
I like counter currents. It has intelligent commentary. And it's honest.
Isn't the US/Mexico wall a terrible idea? Guess who was the first president to propose it. Guess which party cheered for his suggestion.  The reality is that Trump's policies pretty much follow those of the presidents before him. Yes. He is vicious and murderous and anti-democracy. But that has long been a tradition for American presidents.
Wouldn't it be nice if our children could go to  a school with no ceiling - and with the occasional bullet coming through a window? That's a reality for Palestinian children. And guess who supplies Israel with the bombs and the bullets.
It has rarely been mentioned in the irving press, but the building of oil pipelines could be THE issue of the year. Trump is determined to go ahead with them. So is the government of Canada - though it never actually says so. And the government of New Brunswick is, of course, clapping hands for more fossil fuels. And our newspapers owned and/or strongly influenced by oil billionaires either ignore the issue or say it's perfectly safe with adequate regulations. Right. Just like nuclear war is safe with adequate regulations.

(The local, private news media also immediately slobbered with joy at the story that our hospital food services will be turned over to a private company. And they have the nerve to say it will be cheaper. In fairness, that might not be nerve. It might be just stupidity.)
Thought it has scarcely made news in North America, Israel has completed a massive and illegal theft of Palestinian land. It can do that thanks to the money and weapons supplied by the U.S. 600,000 Israelis now occupy what were Palestinian lands and homes. No big deal in our private news media. But can you imagine the furor if Muslims were to steal Isreali land, to expel the Isrealis who lived therre, and to demolish there homes?
The news is full of stories critical of Trump. What they miss is that the U.S political system has been rotten to the core almost from the start. Trump is not very different from Obama who was not very different from Bush who was not very different from Clinton.

Politically, Americans don't really have a choice. Each part is as bad as the other. And the American public has been so propagandized and so saturated with patriotic myths over the years that it has no sense of any alternative.
The reality is that all American presidents have kissed up to the corporations. All have denied their people adequate services. And American bombing of civilian targets is no different from Hitler's holocaust of Jews. In fact, all mass killings are justified by racism and misguided patriotism. And don't kid yourself that Obama was any different.

Who is it that pays the bills for elections candidates who wil do what they are told to do?
Who is it that is getting richer while everybody else is getting poorer?
Who is it that is the major force blocking action on climate change?
Who is it that demands wars on Vietnam, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and, probably, on Iran?
Who is it that dodges taxes?
Who is it that muscles in on health care in Canada and the U.S., and on education and prisons and just about everything else in the U.S.?
And who is it that owns news media that lie to us about what is going on at home and around the world?
It's that tiny proportion of people who are very, very wealthy - at our expense and, often, at the cost of millions of lives.

The conflict is not really between the right and the left. (How could it be when the New Brunswick NDP , supposedly left, could choose a Dominic Cardy as leader - a man who never met a billionaire he didn't like.
There are many (most) parts of the world where Canadian mining companies are hated for their destructive methods and their contempt for native labour. I have known more than a few Canadian mining engineers who rose to senior positions in such countries. They all soaked up the corporate attitude of contempt for the workers. (They even had a song book of 'folk songs' full of contempt for the mine workers.)

It's an attitude they share with American and British and other mining bosses.
The following item is for Canadians. Watch for political instability here. I don't think the Trudeau Liberals will win re-election. (Nor should they.) But the choice will be between just the Trump-like Conservatives, and an NDP which seems to have abandoned almost all the principles it was founded on.

And, like the U.S., it is quite possible that Canadians will choose to vote for the devil.
Our local newspaper didn't have the story that Trump denounced Iran as the leading terrorist state. I'm a bit suprised. It usually publishes all the fake news that it can get. The following item suggests that Saudi Arabia is the leading terrorist state.  I doubt that, too. The U.S. is the one that has been financing Muslim terrorist groups for the last thirty years at least. It's now the leading financial supporter of such groups in Syria.

The source of this is Russia Today. Take a look at a full copy. I don't see propaganda in there. In fact, it has far, far more news than my local, irving press does. And it's more intelligent.
Duriing my working years, my social circle was almost entirely Jewish. And what impressed my most about that social circle was their commitment to studying and discussing the news. They made it a point to be well-informed and, usually, with a strong sense of social responsibility. That's why I was interested to see this item about how American Jews are reacting to Israel.

And that's why I see Netanyahu as a betrayer of the principles of Judaism.
Sorry. It's been a long and perhaps windy blog today. I was put in a bad mood by today's headline in the irving press. "Up to 20 Catholic churches to close in N.B."
First, it's a bad headline because that's not the story. The story is that churches MIGHT close.

Secondly, who could possibly care how many Christian churches close? For centuries, the western nations have been abusing people all over the world and, even at home, the wealthy have been abusing everybody else.  And Christians have just stood around with their faces hanging out. The Christian world has killed millions, created tens of millions of refugees, spat hatred at other religions, and has been concerned only with making money for the already rich. And Christians have God-blessed that every step of the way.

A few church leaders, like the pope, have been magnificent exeptions to that. But they remain the only exceptions.