Friday, April 7, 2017

April 7: The Smell of a Rat....

Sometimes,  the smell of a rat is so strong you can even see it. Sniff this one. The people of a province learn that two major beaches for thousands of locals and tourists, both of them noted for their large, trailer parks, Have been dangerously polluted for a least two years. (Probably longer, but nobody's asking). And the services reponsible for putting up warning signs didn't do it.

A good deal of the pollution is human feces. There may also be sewage. And we're not talking of a pollution that's just yucky. We're talking of a threat to human health, and even to human life.

I would expect a government to act on this immediately. I would expect a government investigation, including some hard questions about why this wasn't reported. Where were the inspectors? Who decided to ignore this? How much are the trailer park owners involved in this? Is it possible inspectors were paid off to keep quiet?  Were politicians involved? Were there criminal actions in this?

I would expect a newspaper to be barking at the end of its chain - asking questions, pointing out how serious this is, demanding some answers from government NOW. I would expect it to be wondering about all the waters aroound New Brunswick. (It's hard to believe this could be happening at just two beaches.)

But no. It's just everyday dah-dee-dah. The newspapers are giving minimum information, and giving it slowly. They aren't asking any questions. They aren't saying much of anything. And it's taken the government over a month to announce, "Gee! Maybe we should put up signs."

I smell a rat here. I smell collusion, cover-up. I smell a gross betrayal by politicians and by journalists.  And it seems to have run through periods under both the Liberals and the Conservatives.

Will anything much happen? I doubt it. The people who should be acting are being casual.  And the people who voted for them? They're a pretty placid bunch. After all, they've been putting up with this kind of thing for well over a hundred and fifty years.

(Just after I wrote the above, the smell became a certified stink. A columnist for the Brunswick News, Norbert Cunningham, has written a column heaping lavish praise on the provincial government for its prompt and thorough action on this issue.)

And I expect that's all the news we're gong to get on this one.
There is also a big news story praising former prime minister Brian Mulroney for taking on the job of negotiating Canadian trade with Trump's US on behalf of Canada. (Mulroney is a buddy of Trump. Both spend their winters at a luxury Florida resort.)

Mulroney is quite possibly the sleaziest prime minister in Canadian history. For example, he once, while prime minister, accepted a large sum of money    (delivered in suitcases) from a lobbyist. (He also lied about its existence for income tax purposes.) The Harper government tapped him on the wrist with virtually no penalty. At the end of his term, he was held in contempt even by the Conservative party. I well remember covering the convention to replace him as leader. Whenever the speaker on stage mentioned a former Conservative leader, there was wild applause. Whenever he mentioned Mulroney, there was a dead silence.)

So now, Canada's economic future is in the hands of a man proven to be corrupt and a thief - and a good ol' buddy of Trump.  Smart move, Justin.
As to the greater world, I closed yesterday pointing out that what Russia, China and the U.S. have in common is capitalism. I wasn't trying to be cute. They do have  it in common - and that has a warning for us all.

Capitalism is not about sharing. It's not about equal opportunity. It's not about the common good. (One can argue - and some do) that it showers prosperity on all of us. In fact, it has a history of imposing massive hardship on us, and even more so on third world countries. During the depression of the 1930s, almost all Canadians suffered terribly. At the same time, major capitalists used that suffering to lower wages, lengthen hours. eliminate holdiays - and so to make handsome profits.

It is a system which focusses on the benefit to a small number of people. It is a system which cares nothing about the average person. That's why Trump wants to destroy Obamacare. In his view, the purpose of everything is to make profits for the very wealthy.  (That's why Brunswick News cheers on privatization of health care. It's not to heal the sick. It's to enrich the already rich. As a result of privatization, people will die. But the important thing is that the wealthy will get wealthier.)

It's a system that fosters greed. That greed is why our governments run deficits That's because among the very wealthy, only suckers pay taxes. The very wealthy have friendly governments that allow them to hide their money - and the news media they own make sure this is ignored.

Among other problems, this will end in a financial crash.

Now, I am not a religious fanatic. But as well as I understand the world's major religions, including Christianity, they do not encourage greed. I know of no commandment that says  "Blessed are the rich for they shall be made richer".
The only church in which you will hear this sort of idiocy is the Moncton Chamber of Commerce.

Religions differ on the names of their Gods,  and which is the road to heaven. But almost all are in basic agreement on the importance of sharing, of thinking of others......  In short, capitalism is anti-Buddhist, anti-Cristian, anti-Taoist.... And religions come to their view for eminently practical reasons. A society based on greed and privilege will not survive - and we won't, either. Among the forces that could destroy us all is modern warfare which, in almost all cases, is caused by capitalism.

Too bad so many of our Christian clergy haven't figured that out yet.
But now, I shall step down from the pulpit.
Brunswick News has the story (on a back page) of the U.S. bombing Syrian airfields in retaliation for the gas attack attributed to Syria (so far, without evidence). It's from Associated Press, so we get the full  treatment on how vicious and evil Syrians are. It even assures us that Trump called the attack on the airfields because he was so horrified at the sight of dozens of children killed by the Syrians. Gee! I wonder how he feels about the millions of children killed by the U.S. I wonder how he feels about the refugee children he refuses to help at all, and the children of Yemen he is deliberately starving to death.

This could be a very dangerous moment for all of us. Trump has launched a useless attack that could well turn into a world nuclear war.

And why is there fighting in Syria? Gee. I wonder if it could have anything to do with the fact that Syria has oil.
This item is useful a reminder that, much as we hear of that terrible Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, the worst aggressor in the Pacific for over a century has been the United States. It is, after all, an empire - and it acts just like (or even worse) than all the empires before it. The US created the nation of Panama in order to control the canal it planned to build.  It illegally took over Hawaii because it wanted an advanced base for attacks on Asia. It illegally attacked The Phillipines, and set up a dictatorship. (But when Japan attacked Hawaii, that was evil.)

The Korean war was to establish an American base on the border of China. So was the Vietnam war. The wars in the middle east are to establish American control of oil. (We often forget that oil is the most valuable and profitable mineral in the world. That's why oil billionaires tell us it's harmless. That's why it's not hard to buy off politicians. That's an example of how greed can destroy judgement. That's why the U.S. killed over a million people in Iraq and Libya, and is now killing more in Syria, even at the risk of a war with Russia and China. That's why the world has an immense refugee problem.

The U.S. is an empire. Like all empires in history, it is unimaginably cruel and destructive. That's what Trump was praising when he said he wanted "to make American great again".

Funny how the good voters of the Bible belt missed the meaning of that. Instead of following Christian principles, the churches have decided to become self-righteous and to act as agents for a very anti-Christian capitalism.
The American attack on Syria may have received only a back page from the hill-billy editors of Brunswick News. It's a major story in every other news source I've looked at.
Here's a calm look at the Syria attack. We don't know what the gas was. We don't know who dropped it. We don't even know if it was dropped. I might have been stored by the jihadists Syria was bombing - who are known to possess such weapons.  And we have no idea and no control over what might happen next. Well - we know that we'll hear more hysteria. People at Brunswick News - and most other news media - think that's what the media are for.

Remember those 'weapons of mass destruction' that we were told were in Iraq? Nobody ever found any.
A recent article in Brunswick News is that the people of this city (Moncton) are being asked to hold discussions on city development for the future. It's hard to imagine a bigger waste of time. The average person (a category that includes me and most of humanity) has no idea of what the future will be like, and thus no idea of how to plan for it.

Before we plan for the future, we need some idea of what the future will be like. And we're a long way from doing that because we depend heavily on oil and agricultural chemicals, and billionaires in those fields have no intention of letting us look at what they're doing.

Here's a sample of which we know far, far too little.
Gee! The U.S. and China have something in common.
Justin Trudeau is just a politician. He exists to get elected. He has no other purpose. I have seen no sign of any coherent set of values or principles in anything he has done. He's a rich kid who found an intellectual outlet for many years in being a snowboard instructor. He's a   valueless person who leads a party of valueless people. (Unlike the Conservative party which is made up of people with detestable values.)

It wasn't always that way. I once had to appear before a parliamentay committee on some issue. The toughest questions came from Warren Almand, the solicitor general under Trudeau, and a good friend. But, Wow! He gave me a hard time.

Later, I would have appear before a huge committee made up entirely of Conservative senators. What a collection of bozos they were! In a half hour of hostile questioning, I was actually bored.
Of all the world's leaders, the one I most often admire is Pope Francis.  (No. I'm not a Catholic.) He is consistently intelligent, compassionate, honest,  and wise.  Protestant leaders seem to be stronger on self-righteousness.
Well, I guess we all have those moments when our heroes fail us. I've long been a great admirer of Haaretz. But today's Haaretz has a coverage of the Trump bombing of Syria that is the worst I have seen.

It accepts the story that the gas in Syria was of a type that, in fact, has not been confirmed yet. It accepts that it was dropped by Syrian aircraft - though that isn't confirmed. (in fact, it may not have been delivered by bomb. It may have been stored on the ground - by the Syrian 'rebels' - who have been known to possess poison gas.)

It sees the Syrians as evil though what they are doing is defending their country against an invasion by jihadists who are armed and paid by the U.S.
It sees the American attack as courageous. Why? Is there now a danger that Assad will invade the U.S.?

It completely ignores the fact that the U.S. has been years in killing children by the millions. And by using chemicals like Agent Orange and napalm, and by using depleted uranium shells and cluster bombs to kill children for years to come. And it is deliberately  murdering millions in Yemen by starvation.
Added to all that, this is an extremely dangerous move. It depends on Russia and China backing off.  I hope they do. But this is one hell of a risk to take.
The U.S. is not in Syria to help children. It never was. Only a fool could believe the opposite.

So why does Haaretz take this bizarre stance? Read it. The language of it is quite extreme, irrational and emotional. Why?

Because Israel wants to become a lot bigger on other people's land like, for example, Palestine, Lebanon, and part of Syria.

The American bombing of that airfield was very, very foolish and very, very dangerous.

It's also likely to lead to more killing of one hell of a lot of children.

But, hey, we need the oil. So let's hear a chorus of "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam".
Sorry for the relatively small number of news media cited. I used up a lot of time and space with my own writing. I'll try to be good in future.

Oh, a footnote. Notice that Trump went to war without bothering to consult congress? Nope. He did it all by himself. Isn't that a dangerous amount of power to be in the hands of just one man who is commonly regarded as being 'disturbed'.


  1. Thanks for your honest clear sighted writing. What a naïve and ill informed PM we have now.

  2. Then there was the Karlheinz Schreiber, Mulroney and the $225,000 in three brown envelopes issue.