Friday, December 2, 2016

Dec.2: The world on the edge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Russian challenge?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that could well provoke a parallel movement in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Nov. 30: The self-blessed sinners of America

Big story on the front page of the irving press. Moncton city councillors voted themselves a pay increase of thousands of dollars.  Isn't it honest and brave of the irving press to speak out like t hat? Of course...... would be braver still if it ever spoke out about the much bigger raises billionaires give to themselves without bothering with a vote. But we have no idea how much money the wealthy of this province give themselves. And, though we've known for years about tax havens wear the wealthy can hide their money from taxes, we have yet to see the slightest interest from our press about exactly who those wealthy are, and how much they hide.

If you're starving an homeless, and  you shoplift a chocolate bar, that's a big story in the irving press. But if hide millions or even billions in tax money - not a word.

Next to it is the story about how the auditor general of the province says the provincial government has to cut down on spending. As usual, the auditor general makes no mention of what the human needs of the province are. Just cut the spending. And she certainly doesn't not call for making the rich pay taxes.
That was the standard approach in the great depression of the  1930's, too.  As the poor got poorer and hungrier, and as the rich got richer and didn't pay taxes, the demand was to cut spending on the poor. Gotta balance the budget.

World news? One of the big stories is that Trump's former  campaign manager will be visiting Alberta to give a speech to rich people. Wow!

The only real story in the whole paper is that Justin Trudeau has just approved some nice, new oil pipeliness over the mass objections of people who live along the routes. The approval also means that expanded fossil fuel production will continue for at least the forty years it will take to pay the cost of those pipelines. So forget about dealing with climate change.

And that takes us to a bone-headed commentary on CBC news. it criticizes Trudeau for making a statement of regret for Castro's death. And then praises him for refusing to attend Castro's funeral, saying this shows he has the stuff to be a world leader.

By the writer's logic, one could say that Trudeau should publicly refuse to express regret or to attend the funeral for the death of George Bush. After all, George Bush was one of the great mass murderers of history. Castro did enormous good for the people of Cuba.      Bush did no good at all for anybody except himself.

Castro was a dictator? So is the buddy we cuddle up to to and sell weapons to - the king of Saudi Arabia. - not to mention all the American-controlled dictatorships of Latin America.

Castro is a villain only because our propaganda news media make him a villain.
The writer then says that by refusing to attend Castro's funeral, Trudeau has reformed himself to become worthy of a being a leader in the western world.

1. There is not the slightest chance Trudeau will be a leader of the western world. He will always be what he is now, a puppet for the president of the U.S. (and for oil companies.)

2. And the refusal to attend the funeral of a man who attended his father's funeral just shows him to be gutless.

There is something we have to learn about Trudeau. He is his father's son only in a biological sense. Beyond that, the resemblance ends.

Pierre Trudeau admired Castro for the good he had done. And Pierre Trudeau didn't give a damn  what the U.S. thought about it. Pierre Trudeau was a man of principle.

His son is not. To him, the political life has only one purpose. It has nothing to do with the needs of the people or the nation.  The point of politics, the only point, is to please the powerful and so to win the next election.

He's the irving press' kind of guy.

Incidentally, if it is so terrible that Castro was a dictator, then how come nobody every criticizes the US for having created the dictator he displaced? In fact, very few news accounts mention that Cuba was a dictatorship imposed by the U.S. since before Castro was born. Latin America is full of dictatorships - all of them imposed by the U.S. And, unlike Castro, none of those dictators has ever done a damn thing for  anybody except American billionaires.
Nelson Mandella was one of the great leaders in world history. He admired Castro for his accomplishments. Justin Trudeau (not one of the great leaders in world history) has renounced his admiration for Castro. Case closed.
Justin Trudeau is expanding our use of dirty fuels - just like his good friends in the U.S. oil industry. And I'll bet he'd make it a point to mourn at all of their funerals.
Here's a story about how American 'democracy' can be worse than any dictatorship. It's about Standing Rock in North Dakota - and it's a story that may well be played out near you very soon, Canadian readers, as Trudeau shows he can be as backward as any other western leader.
The U.S. military has a Joint Special Operations Command which it uses to murder people all over the world, including in countries the U.S. is not at war with. The purpose is, generally, to take out anyone who might be opposed to  what American corporations want. Nobody knows who or how many they have killed because the American government won't say, and the American news media don't care.

Isn't it just terrible what that Castro did? I mean - all that money wasted on schools and hospitals?
The U.S. congress has just passed a no-fly resolution for Syria. In effect, this would mean only U.S. planes would be allowed to fly. Now, the U.S. has no right  under international law to fly over Syria. Russia does have a right. So - will the president give the U.S. airforce permision to fly over Syria - and to shoot down Russian planes?

If he does, that means a world war with Russia.
Here's an item I know is true because it has been investigated and condemned in Britain by many inquiries. While prime minister of Britain, Tony Blair lied in order to justify the US/British invasion of Iraq that murdered   one and a  half million people. Subsequently, he became an extremely wealthy man for favours to various middle east thugs like Saudi Arabia. That much is known - but, seemingly - not known to most of the North American news media.

Now, the British are taking a much more serious look at this man who was such a good buddy to Bush.
The Washington Post doesn't like Paul Craig Roberts. It listed  him as one of a huge group of bloggers and independent journalists who conspired with Putin to get Trump elected. I'm familiar with a large number of the sites the Washington Post names. It's charges are absurd. In fact, one of the most lying news services I have come across is The Washington Post. Roberts  (below) didn't take its report very seriously.
One of the most bizarre candidates Trump has pondered for his government team is General Petraeus, a man whose military career has staggered from incompetent,  to pandering, to giving away classified information, to low comedy. It really is quite noticeable how Trump leans to people of this sort.
Here is a new item that doesn't say as much as it should. It's about the (strong) possibility that the people that Trump is apppointing to his government want an all-out American war on Syria. But any such move would be almost certain to provoke a world war. That's the kind of people - whatever Trump may say about his aims -  that Trump is appointing.
Here's a story about the climate change that isn't happening. I haven't seen anything in the irving press to suggest that either the press or the irvings give a damn about it. We know that oil companies hire expensive lobbyists to make sure that people like Trudeau go on building lots and lots of oil pipelines But I'm sure the Irvings of New Brunswick would never, never do that. I mean, these are the people who maintain a family chapel (with special music) just for us. And the Chamber of Commerce speaks very highly of them.
The next item has some truth in it - but it may be too harsh in its treatment of American military leadership. It has been, as the article says, pretty ineffective in the past 16 years. But the reality is that it's been pretty ineffective for the past 70 years.

The American military performance over a tiny North Korea - and with lots of help -  was not brilliant. Vietnam was a disaster. So was Afghanistan, though we're still pretending. Ditto Libya and Iraq and, probably, Syria. But that may not be due to the generals as much as it is to the almost world hatred that the U.S. has created for itself - as well as to the the natural development of military leaders in countries fed up with American aggression, and adjusting themselves to how to fight against a modern enemy.
I attach the following site not because of any particular story in it, but because it looks like one worth following.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Nov. 28: Castro and our contemptible news media.

Today's irvinig press has a striking example of propaganda presented as news.  ( That's actually quite common in our news services.) This one is a story about Cuban exiles in Miami celebrating the death of Castro.   It's about  how the exiles long for a return to a Cuba that is free and democratic, etc.

That seems natural? Well, it would. but....

The Cuban exiles in Miami are people who lived  happily in a Cuba that was ruled by a dictator who murdered and tortured. How come they didn't leave then?
Answer - they had no quarrel with a dictator who murdered and tortured. Many of them were his murderers and torturers. In fact, one of them is well known as the man who blew up a  Cuban civilian airliner killing all on board.

Remember, these 'exiles' were people who happily stayed in Cuba under a murderous dictator. It was the defeat of the dictator that sent them scurrying. Any reporter should have been able to figure that out. But not one reflected it in the reporting.

This looks like a news story about people longing for freedom. But it's really propaganda for people who fought against freedom.

Priests celebrating the mass prayed for an end to communism because it causes suffering.  (I skip lightly over the fact that they don't seem to know what the word 'communist' means.)  In any case, Castro brought equal opportunity for education, and he created a  health care system that is one of the best in the world.   Capitalism all over the world  has resisted those. For that matter, Cubans suffered poverty under Castro, but not because of either Castro or communism. It suffered poverty  because the capitalist U.S. forcibly cut off its markets.

Capitalism takes a back seat to nobody when it comes to causing suffering.
This is a news story that is entirely fiction. Strong on propaganda, though.

Note, too, that New Brunswick is about  to privatize the non-health-care services in its hospitals. Will this provide greater efficiency and eonomies? Of course not. The services will now have to provide a service PLUS a profit.    So it will cost us more. So why do this?

Because big business wants to privatize hospitals in general. This is a first step  to change hospitals from serving people to serving profits.

And, of course, we have the usual reminders that the US is great defender of human rights. Yes, it is - in speeches.  It's also the U.S. that had and still operates the biggest torture system in the world - with full cooperation from Canada.
The story below is just one example of the horror of climate change combined with western interference with social patterns all over the world. We cannot deal with this and fight wars at the same time. But there's more profit in fighting wars. We will soon pay one hell of a price for the profit that will never, in any case, reach most of us.
On a related point, there are several articles on people like Castro who, love them or hate them, made real changes in the world, changes that had to be made. I can think of a great many billionaires we'll never be able to say that about.
Particularly the oil ones.
The Guardian, despite several tries, has nothing intelligent to say about Castro. One columnist sneers at the poverty of Cuba in the 1990s. Obviously, she doesn't know that poverty was forced on Cuba by the rich United States. She sneers at him because he was a dictator - nicely ignoring the fact one of her country's greatest friends is the dictator of Saudi Arabia who has never done any good for his friends or anybody else.
This next article is not uncritical of Castro - but it's more intelligent than anything I saw in The Guardian. This one does what others do not - it looks at the only alternatives to Castro - the extremely rapacious and brutal American capitalists of the sort who had set up Batista.

In a century of dominance and aggression by American business, Castro was the only person who ever tried to make life better in Cuba. And if you know of American business leaders who would have done better, please make your insight known to the world.
Here's a very serious look at the direction this world is taking. Capitalism never worked as it was supposed to. And now it has moved into a highly destructive phase.
Our local paper still hasn't noticed Standing Rock.
Canada's Conservative party has denounced Castro because he was a dictator. But they adore the Saudi royal family who are, presumably, in the tiny and confused heads of Conservatives, great democrats.
With climate change we are facing the biggest crisis in history. We cannot deal with it and, at the same time, fight wars to make billionaires richer.

I'm quiting a little early today because I'm not feeling well. But before I stop, I want to add a few words about the death of Castro.

Most press coverage that i've seen of his death has been self-righteous, arrogant, and hopelessly out of touch with any reality. It was The Guardian that first ticked me off - but I also saw lots of others.

Much of the criticism is indignant because Castro did not make Cuba a democracy. Well,  no he didn't. How could he? He was a short distance from a U.S. that was 30 times the size of Cuba, was hostile, that attempted an invasion, that flooded the country with mafia killers and special ops killers, that sought to destabilize it in every way through, for example, setting off bombs in its hotels. It also condemned Cuba to poverty by cutting off its trade. His chances of rebuilding the nation while at the same time fending off American aggression in the midst of the chaos were pretty slim. And I  couldn't help noticing that the journalists who criticized Castro had never had a problem with the brutal dictators  who, with the blessing of Washington, preceded him. Or with our good friend dictators in Saudi Arabia.

Nor did they note his triumph in building a health care system and an education system infinitely  superior to those of the U.S. and, indeed, those in most of the world.

He did his good work without stuffing his own pockets - unlike the media billionaires who do stuff their own pockets without doing any good work.
And the leaders who don't praise Castro for his work will have no trouble praising the mass murderers and thieves like George Bush and Tony Blair when their time comes.

And I can't help noticing that the journalists at irving press had nothing whatever to say about a man of accomplishment like Castro while they heap praise and kisses on their owners who have never done anything for the province except to pollute its land and poison the air  over its refineries.  (And to sponsor each other for halls of fame.)

Castro was a better and more honest person than all our billionaires and their political hacks put together. That made him almost unique among national leaders. but you won't learn that by reading most of our news media.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Nov. 26: Castros' death - and our dead newspapers

Fidel Castro has died at the age of  90. Castro was the one who ended decades of rule in Cuba by some of the most murderous regimes in history, all of them approved and supported by the U.S.  Murder, robbery, rape and torture were all part of the dictators' work days, and all with the blessing of the U.S. government And all ignored by the U.S. news media.

Cuba was a playground for the mafia  who forced Cuban women into prostitution to meet the tastes of American tourists.

Thoough it happened so long ago, I well remember the day that the news of Castro's defeat of the dictator came on TV. There was a shot of President Eisenhower, so furious he was almost foaming at the mouth. Some years later, I was flying over Cuba. I could still see the craters left by valiant American bombers on the country that had no anti-aircraft guns.

Castro immediately began the work of setting up schools that every child could attend. And, unlike wealthy Canada and the U.S., Cubans got free education all the way through university. He established a medicare system so that, unlike Americans, Cubans could get medical care. To this day, Cuban doctors are still major suppliers of health care throughout Latin America.

But, oh, the U.S. was displeased. It sponsored a failed invasion of Cuba.  It set bombs in resort hotels. It used American government and mafia hitmen in attempts to kill Castro. It blew up a civilian Cuban airliner killing all aboard.  (The bomber is, to the best of my knowledge, still living as an honoured citizen in Florida.) For over sixty years, the U.S. government has tried to impoverish Cuba by forbidding other nations to trade with it. But the world's richest nation with 325 million people was  held off by one of the world's poorest nations with only 11 million.

And for all of those sixty years, most of our news meda have kept us ignorant  of what was going on. (Most of it still is keeping us ignorant. I can't wait to see the irving press coverage of Castro's death in its Monday edition - if it does cover it. If it does, expect a story on how evil Castro was - not at all like those nice murderers and torturers the U.S. had put in power.

From most of our news media, we have no idea of the suffering and destruction that the U.S. has imposed on Latin America for over a century. And after the story of Castro's death appears in the Moncton Times and Transcript, we still won't have any idea.
Today's Moncton Times has its usual nothing - except - this great headline in Section A. "Man smashes car with tire iron, then helps him fix damage."  (If you can't see what's wrong with that headline, apply for a job at the Times. They would probably hire you as an editor or proofreader.)

On the comments page, I read Brian Murphy, expecting another 'nothing' column. To my pleasure, I was quite wrong. This one is interesting. (I had, though, a little problem with his conclusion that New Brunswick has an 'unhappy' vote of 20% that is comparable to the Trump support. He leaves the impression that the 'unhappy' are, by definition, wrong. My experience of politics has been quite the opposite.

In world news, the big  story is that a local, wooden bridge has to be repaired.
In this world of greed and mass murder and looting, the sermonette on the Faith Page sets a new record for saying nothing. Its message is we should enjoy the snow.
The Guardian's coverage of Castro's death is pretty feeble stuff. It diddles about trying to please everybody by not having any opinion of its own.  I know the death was recent. But Castro was old and in bad health. A big paper like The Guardian must have had that obituary written some years ago. It's one thing to give everybody's opinion - but that's not news. The Guardian must, by now, have come to an opinion of its own.

Donald Trump is quoted as saying that now Cuba can get democracy. Yeah. Well, if the U.S. was so  hot on Cuba getting democracy, it could  have given it to Cuba at any time. Instead, the U.S. supported the dictator Batista - just as in other Latin American countries it supported the dictators Trujillo, Duvalier, Pinochet.  (I well remember the story of an old friend, a film maker on assignment to Chile, who got out just ahead of Pinochet's death squads.) The U.S. has established dictatorships at one time or another in just about every Latin American country. In Haiti, it overthrew the elected government to set up a phony democracy, calling it a 'peace-keeping' action which Canada, to its shame, joined.

For all its talk, the U.S. has almost never brought freedom to anybody. It established a dictatorship when it conquered The Phillipines, and it supported the dictatorship of The Phillipines long after World War Two. It murdered hundreds of thousands in Guatemala who wanted democracy.

It is not a coincidence that its best Arab friend is the dictator of Saudi Arabia.

But thanks to lying news media owned by our billionaires, there is a general sense that the U.S. goes about like a good fairy bringing peace and prosperity to all. As I write this, Brazil is in a crisis as the U.S. engineered the overthrow of its elected president; and now the scheme is turning into disaster as the U.S.-chosen government is steeped in corruption.  (But don't worry. You'll never see it in the irving press.)
The Standing Rock protest might be coming to a crisis as pressure rises for military intervention. (The reason for intervention, we are told, is that the protesters might use violence. Gee! That would be unAmerican. I mean, so far, only the police have used violence. But that's okay.)
Here's a salute to Castro that will not appear in the irving press.

As I read this, I felt the jar any western Christian would feel at the use of the word 'communism'    in this article. I mean, it's so terible. Such a failure.
That's because we think what our news media condition us to think. But communism, like socialism, like capitalism is a very human sort of thing. And, like all things human, sometimes it works and sometime it doesn't. We are now watching a collapsing capitalism in the U.S. (and Canada). It has failed to bring us the levels of social care we need. It has failed, by a huge margin, to bring us equal opportunity. It is creating rising levels of poverty, especially in the U.S. It is diverting higher proportions of our wealth to the rich.  It has pressed us into constant wars that now have us on othe edge of nuclear war.  It has caused massive poverty and suffering in Africa, the middle east, Latin America, in countries like Greece, in much of Asia....

Actually, Cuba is not a communist country, anyway. And whatever it is, this tiny country has far surpassed the richest country in the world in things that are kind of important - like health care and education.

I will admit, though, that capitalism has done a far better job than communism or socialism of providing tax havens for billionaires.
And here is a reminder. Donald Trump is very much a product of the policies of governments that came before him. That includes Obama. One of Obama's contributions was to make America a police state with the power to override all invidual rights. This will be a big help to Trump.
This next item is really a quite important issue. And one that Trump cannot be trusted on.
Here's an important story that hasn't made the irving press.  (It hasn't made the irving press press because it is important.) It's hard to see where this one is going - but I suspect that this one has the potential to become much, much bigger - and one with implications for a Canada whose capitalists are just as greedy as American ones, and  for a Canadian government that is as much a servant to greedy captialists as the American government is.
Canada uses torture. It  has used it for a long time. it has been used by our prisons, by our governments, by our secret police - and in cooperation with U.S. torture. (You don't think prison torture can be all that bad? I have seen it. I have seen a prisoner in solitary for a couple of weeks sitting naked on the floor of his cell, and eating his own excrement.)

None of the above is secret. Our government's involvement with torture in its own right and in cooperation with the U.S. should be well known. The information is available.

But I'll bet you haven't seen it in your local newspaper.
Fake news is not a new phenomenon. (Fake news is a form of propaganda disguised to look like real news. )  We've always had fake news. But it is spreading. Here's a sample that ran wild at Washington Post.  (And, almost certainly, with the knowledge of the Post editors.)
The site above tipped me off to a real news site that I thought interesting.

and, for a Canadian, here's an interesting account of what it's like to live under the Canadian empire. (Yes. There really is such a thing. And you sure won't read about it in the irving press.)

And there's Black Agenda - a largely American site. And a very intelligent one.
True Publica is a British site. This article tells us something about global warming and the laid-back attitude to ward it off on the part of oil billionaires. Ever notice how our oil billionaires never have much to say about global warming? Here's why. And it's a good example of the mentalities, morality, and intellectual bankrupticies of those we are dealing with.
And a final thought for Canadians.

Canada has seldom had its own policies, either domestic or foreign. It has usually been a tagalong for a big brother - either Britain or, since 1945,  the U.S.    Canada has never really been an independent country.

That sort of dependence has never been a good idea for Canada. And, as the U.S. enters its self-desructive years, it promises to be become an even worse idea. We already have troops overseas that should not be there. We are already committed to as yet unnamed wars that cannot be won.

I see no sign that Canadians are rethinking the implications of that. And we don't have a whole, hell of a lot of time to think about them.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Nov. 25: Enough talk. Time to do.

It's a pity most readers  (who live in the U.S., China, etc.) don't get my local paper, The Moncton Times&Transcript. Part of a chain (Brunswick News) owned by the richest man in the province,  it tells us all whatever he wants us to know - which isn't much. The headline story today - the big one, the news YOU need to know - is that the provincial hospitals will be changing their food menus. And it has almost a half-page of photos of food for those who are unclear on what peas and carrots and potatoes look like.

Then there's the commentary page which, as usual, doesn't have a single commentary on it.  Commentary is supposed to be analysis of the news, a  process that gives it meaning to us. The paper once had two, excellent commentators - Gwynne Dyer on foreign affairs, and David Suzuki on environment - so it dropped both.

Today, the page has a pitch by the premier. That's not a commentary. That's a free ad. Or, at best, it's a news item. A real newspaper should then have a commentator with the skill to analyze that statement. The editorial writer is incapable of writing on any major issue. And Norbert Cunningham? He just beats the drum of the day.  Lately, it's been the education system of which he appears to know nothing at all - which fits in with the pattern of most of his topics.

Even worse, he thinks the answer to the problem is for the New Democratic Party                                                                                                              (which originated as a party focussed on the needs of the people) to combine with the Conservatives  (who originated, like the Liberals, as servants of the rich) to run as a coalition in the next election.

Even worse, the provincial NDP in New Brunswick is so far out to lunch, it's quite possible it would take up the idea.

And as for foreign news, well - the aging 'Bluenose' (a fishing ship of sailing days) is getting its rudder fixed in next-door Nova Scotia.
The news YOU need to know.

Yemen? Syria? Russia? China? Latin America? Never  heard of them.
And, speaking of the absence of decent commentary in the irving press, I'm reminded of an excellent commentator that it fired - because, I suppose, he's excellent. The commentator is Gwynne Dyer. Long ago, when he and I and the world were young, we would occasionally meet and kill time at the CBC Montreal studios where we were both on the same show. So I was pleased to come across one of his books "With Every Mistake".  The mistakes are mostly those committed by journalists (including Gwynne) as reflected in samples of his own columns. The book is also excellent on the role of newspaper and other media owners in Canada in blocking any commentators they disapprove of - which is why Dyer, though highly regarded in most of the world, now rarely appears in Canadian newspapers.

It's an excellent book.
_________________________________________________________________The west press has been attacking Russia Today as propaganda, and is attempting to drive it out of business. I've read quite a few editions of it. I don't see the fuss. It's at least as honest as any western site I've seen  Probably more so. Take a          look at this edition. What's the fuss?
Just as I was losing faith in The Guardian, a reader sent me the items below by a Guardian commentator. Good stuff.
I found this item interestinig because no British governor in all the years of British rule in Hong Kong ever gave a damn for democracy. So why is this former British governor speaking in favour of democracy and against  those who want separation of Hong Kong from China? Almost certainly, it's because he's more concerned about the ability of British capitalists to continue their profitable role in China.

And note that it's not Chinese communists who are blocking democracy. China isn't communist any more. No. It's a capitalist country. And capitalists don't love democracy any more than communists did.
Here's a story about climate change that we'll never see in the irving press. In just over 10 years, over a hundred million people will be starving because of it. Well, that's if it doesn't accelerate - which it probable will. We're looking at levels of starvation and turmoil the world has not seen in  hundreds of thousands of years. And just wait until it hits Europe.

Wait till it get worse in American states like California.  And guess what millions of Americans will see as their solution as they run out of water.
The Guardian doesn't mention it; but Trump yesterday said he was willing  to reconsider his disbelief in climate change. But it probably doesn't matter. in the first place, no matter what he might say, he is unlikely to do anything serious about climate change. And if he did something about it?

That would be a betrayal of much of his vote base which voted for him to bring back coal mining and industrial jobs which are creating the mining problem. And dropping that would create a very, very large group of very, very angry people who could make the U.S. a very dangerous and unstable place to live.

The real problem of the U.S. is neither Trump nor Clinton. The real problem is a society in collapse, a society ultimately controlled by a small, capitalist elite which is too greedy to allow any interruption in its profits, and too greedy to allow the examination of all the forces that have to come together to control climate change.
The irving press hasn't mentioned it. But the protesters at Standing Rock in North Dakota, not the Democrats and the Conservatives and the billionaires, are the key to real change in the U.S. (How could the irving press miss this story?)
The irving press never carries stories about the brutalities and destructiveness of mining companies all over the world. These are notorious for dreadful working conditions, abysmally low pay , dreadful environmental damage, beatings and, when necessary, assassinations. And Canadian companies are leading players in mining all over the world.

Some months ago, an angry, Canadian mining engineer sent me an angry note about my opinions of him and his brethren. i've been trying hard to feel sorry, but can't manage it.
This next one is more of a cry of despair than I like to see. But it is true that the problem is there - and in even a broader way that the author suggests. He skips rather lightly over Russian and Chinese capitalists, not seeing that these are much the same breed as western ones.

The answer, if any, is not likely to come from a major power. It  has to come from a grouping of lesser powers,  like Canada. (Though it certainly won't come from the politicians we now have.)

Certainly, the political games we're now playing are running us into a crash - a thousand crashes. All the principles on which we base our behaviour are, many times proven, destructive.
Lying about the news is now the rule rather than the exception.

It's very common, and exposed in this case only because the reporters did a bit of digging on their own. Most don't. And that's particularly noticeable with our very own irving press.

And Canada's government knew about this all the time.

Hitler was not a step back into the dark past. On the contrary, he set the pattern for our governments today.
And a story from al Jazeera about Canada - also missed by the irving press.
And another story missed by the irving press.
But enough of the moaning. In the last fifteen years of war against Muslims the Middle East has not become a better place. In fact, it's been over a hundred years of heavy interference and killing -and the Middle East has not become a happier place or more stable. It has only become worse. And there is not the slightest reason to believe that another century of killing will make it better.

And if the U.S. were to invade Russia or China, can anyone seriously believe it would make them into happier or more stable places?

These wars aren't guided by people trying to establish peace or stability. These are wars for greed. Nothing else. And the problem is not simply that these wars are murderous and thieving and destabilizing. The problem is that they put us on a permanent treadmill of murder and thieving and destabilizing.

And if we do invade them and defeat them, will China, the victim of more than a century of our imperialism  in that country, greet us with joy? Will Russia?
There is no possible future in what we are doing. Not for them. Not for us. So what do we do? There is no world body to turn to. The U.S., with the help of Britain and others, destroyed that a long time ago.

No. It has to start with individuals and with individual countries.

At the individual level, one might expect it to begin with the churches. But that's a slim chance. The Christian churches have not taken a significant stand against the mass murder we call war in 2,000 years. Every Saturday, I read the Faith Page of our irving press. I've now read hundreds of them. I have yet to read one on the subject of war, except to praise it at memorial times

. The churches are gutless.

The only starting point we have is people who have the courage to gather together, to speak openly about what is going on, to interest their neighbours in speaking openly....  We are in a crisis. And there are no angels to wave their wands. There is only us.

We have to break the pattern of what is going on. We have to remove our neighbours from it. We have to remove Canada from it. We have to set an example for other countries.

Yes. That's a modest start. But the reality is there is no other start. We don't own the news media that  smother the earth in lies and propaganda. We don't own the politicians who claim to speak for us. They are owned by the people who own the news media.

What we have is us. And we can start only with what we have.

And, yes. It can be done.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nov. 23 A worse, worse day.

I'll try to keep this first bit short; but it might help us to understand what the world is going through. We think of World War One and World Two as quite separate, and we talk of the danger of World War Three. I'm not sure that's accurate. But there's another way of looking at it.

From 1848 to 1871, the German states were united into a German nation. And that challenged the whole, western world - most particularly the leading industrial and/or imperial states like Britain, France, The Netherlands, Portugal... With reason, they feared that Germany would overtake them as an industrial and military power.

That fear was the reason why Britain began to look for ways to get rid of Canada, a colony which could pull Britain into war with the U.S. The British realized early that they needed to unite the English-speaking world behind them to protect more important parts of the empire. This even found its way into a Sherlock Holmes novel as early as 1880. Winston Churchill was still pushing that theme in the middle of the twentieth century with his highly romanticized "History of the English-speaking Peoples". (Americans saw things a different way. They saw the British Empire riding for a fall; and they saw their chance to replace it fell.)

As early as the 1870s, the fear of a German industrial and military rise had all of Europe picking sides and preparing for war. That war broke out in 1914. It was a war of competing capitalist nations, fearful of each other. It had no other cause.
The U.S., which already had its own imperial ambitions, joined the war very late, hoping to pick up some imperial crumbs. It was particularly interested in grabbing a share of China which had been so profitable for Britain. (Ever wonder why the U.S. has its major naval base way out in the Pacific and far from the U.S. mainland? That's because Pearl Harbour is not intended to be defensive. It's intended to be an American dagger aimed at China to produce profits for American capitalists.)

The so-called World War Two was simply a coninuation of World War One. But it came out badly for Britain which was exhausted and impoverished by the war. And this time, the U.S. was more ready to leap on the old, European empires. It moved into the middle east in a big way, taking control of its oil. It tried (and failed) to prevent the British from retaking Hong Kong, and the French from retaking French Indo-China. Most disappointingly for U.S. capitalists, the U.S. failed to take China, losing out to Mao. It also failed in its attempt to conquer Indo-China (Vietnam) for itself. However, it succeeded in holding on to South Korea as an American base to attack China. (Yes. That's what the Korean War was all about.)

By the end of World War Two  (or, really, World War One, part two) the European empires were done for. But the war that began with German unification in 1871 went on as a war to build the American world empire.

It is still, as it began, a hundred and fifty years ago, a war for economic dominance - though our leaders and news media happpily invent other reasons. And so the dance goes on but with changing partners on the floor. It has been one, long war. It has been advertised as separate wars. It is not. It has been advertised as separate wars against tyranny and for freedom.  It is not. The European/U.S. 150 year world war is one, very long war for greed, for the capitalism that has come to dominate our lives.

Always be ready to doubt the official version of history. It is commonly designed to be used against us.
Trump is setting up the U.S. for violence. He's doing it by giving people  no choice but violence. In his policies on, say, climate change, he's not that different from Bush and Obama and, for that matter, Trudeau. Where he is different is in  his bluntness - and that's a guarantee of violence.

Trump has adopted an additude to climate change and the environment which is not very different from that of recent New Brunswick governments and of the Irving press. But it's bluntness is going to make it even more dangerous.

Get used to it. There are very wealthy people in this world of unimaginablle greed and stupidity and arrogance and indifference to others. (But we're polite. We call them 'philanthropists'.
Just a reminder for Canadians. Justin ain't Pierre.
I include the item below largely for Canadian readers. It's about Tony Blair, former leader of the labout party, suppposedly a left-wing leader but one with no principles whatever, and one who is no  further left than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton put together.

I insert this for Canadian readers because Canada's left-wing party,  the NDP, is like Blair in one way. It is more interested in getting elected than in doing what needs to be done. There is no future for the NDP in that. It has a huge job to do in telling this propagandized country what needs to be done. And you can't do that by pretending to be a puppy. We don't need an NDP that's just like the liberals and conservatives.
Here's a story the irving press has ignored. And it's going to get much, much uglier.

This blog has a large number of readers in New Brunswick, of course. But it also has very large numbers in the U.S., China, Germany, France...  It's too bad those in other countries can't get our Brunswick News. You haven't see a real stinker until you've seen Brunswick news.
Here's the story we aren't getting in the irving press. Guess whose side it's on. Guess whose side it will be on if something like this comes to New Brunswick again.
Russia Today has a story about tensions on the Russian border which should be of concern to Canadians because we have troops there.  But you won't find much in Canadian papers.

However, it is in Russia Today - and I don't detect any propaganda in this story.
For a break with ordinary craziness, here's a fascinating article from Haaretz about the real Winston Churchill. He was idolized during the war. He still is. As a fifteen year old, I was enchanted by his 'History of the English speaking Peoples". Later, as I learned more about history, I developed serious doubts about him.

His history of the English-speaking peoples is mostly myth. Worse, by the time of Dunkirk, he had lost the war - and, despite his inspiring speeches, he knew it. All that saved him was Hitler's idiocy in attacking the Soviet Union.

Churchill fancied himself a brilliant military leader. The British army knew better, and kept their best general in Britain thoughout the war to keep a lid on Churchill. And, though he courted American favour after the war, he lost again as the U.S. government used the post war period to finish Britain as a world power.

Churchill, though undoubtedly brave, had no military competence at all. He was remarkably casual as a war leader - and never far from a cigar and a bottle. He was also a pioneer of the military bombing of civilians way back in 1920 - long before Hitler did it at Guernica. The British knew what he was - and they wisely voted him and the Conservatives out of power as the war ended.

He was very much a product of the old, English aristocracy - born to privilege, self-centred, an economic sponge - the sort of    character featured in the comic novels of author P.G.Wodehouse. Someday we'll be getting comic novels like that about our capitalist aristocracy of today.

This is a good read.
I included the story above because the news today is so bad and we're getting so little of the full story. Trump's appointees so far go beyond being people one disagress with. They are so extreme they would be dangerous even if one could agree with them. Several prominent ones are arguably mentally ill. At least one of othem is an enthusiastic cheerleader for torture. At least two, so far, are  determined to launch a war against Russia and China. This is shaping up as a bizarre cabinet. And the U.S. appears to be heading for guaranteed violence.
It's not because of Trump. It's not because of an equally bad Clinton. Neither of them is the cause of anything. Both of them are products of a collapsed society. And Canadians live next door. And Canadians have a premier who will do whatever an American president tells him to do.

The is going to be very, very ugly.

Monday, November 21, 2016

July 21: A bad, bad day.

A reader sent the following item to me - and depressed the hell out of me. - Because I think what it say is true. It doesn't mean that Hillary Clinton would have been a better choice. It means there was no choice. The U.S. election of Trump is simply the last step in a development in the U.S. that has been going on since 1776.
With Bush and Obama, the U.S. has had two disastrous presidents in a row. Now, this is the last step to rule by an aristocracy of corporate bosses. Like the old aristocracy of Europe, they are arrogant, dismissive of lesser people, see themselves as having a right to rule. Also like the old aristocracy of Europe, they occupy their lofty positions not by any talent, but usually by grace of inheritance. Like the old aristocracy of Europe, inbreeding has reduced their intelligence - but they rule anyway by right of birth. For the few born with the right names, high positions and power are guaranteed - as are dinners in their honour hosted by the kiss-ups of the chamber of commerce.

If one of us was a bank teller and made even a small error, he or she might well be fired. American banking executives, through incompetence and greed destroyed the U.S. banking system. But they didn't get fired. No. They got bailed out by the taxpayers, and then gave themselves multi-million dollar bonusses for their good work.

The result of all this is a U.S. with rising poverty even as the small  incomes of the average American get swallowed by the greedy maws of the rich. Nor is Canada so different as we would like to think. We are going down the same path with the same sort of slack-jawed and arrogant leadership that one sees in  the U.S. business world.

What is happening  is obvious. But none of those high-paid talking heads of TV who covered the election noticed it.

Forget Trump. Forget Clinton. (And forget Trudeau.)  it's going to get much, much worse. In fact, it already is. Check out CBC news for the story of what's happening at Standing Rock, the story that none of the irvings appear to have noticed though they are likely preparing for a New Brunwick version of it.
Or, if  you'd rather not thinkg at all,  you can read the irving press for a more than full-page story about how local artists have just produced a comic book. it's the biggest story in today's issue.
Earlier, I spoke of how the brainless sons of the wealthy could get ahead in the world without needing brains. Here's the story of Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in -law of no great talent who was able to get into Harvard without anything close to the usual qualifications. (And he is now officially Trump's closest adviser on world affairs.)

Generally, The Guardian hasn't been a whole lot better than the irving press on the issue of the U.S. election.
During the election, the only intelligent policy (and almost the only real policy that Trump mentioned) was to seek more peaceful relations with Russia. That makes his cabinet choices odd since they are heavily  loaded with warhawks and Russia-haters.
Obama was one of the great failures in the history of the U.S. presidency. In fact, he is a major reason why Trump won, and why Clinton was all the Democrat party had to offer. He achieved almost none of his promises. And even his wildly expensive Obamacare was a farce designed to make the health industry even richer.

So what will happen to Edward Snowden, the man who did the ultimate unAmerican thing? He told the truth.

Here's a strong possibility of what will happen.

The new head of the CIA wants him executed.
American politicians are fond of referring to Muslims as murderously evil. They play up the brutal executions by ISIS. Americans eats that up as Trump demonstrated. But Americans and their politicians and their news media never look in a mirror.

Christians, too, have a long record of murderous and greedy behaviour.
One of the outstanding features of the post-world war two period has been the remarkable failure of rhe U.S. military  to accomplish anything -   even with its massive power which it has used against millions of the most helpless people in the world. Obama has spent more years  at war than any president in American history - and he has virtually nothing to show for it.

The U.S. has been able to kill millions, to cripple millions more, to create generations of orphans, and to create the most terrible hardship for tens of millions. Bit it can't win. And Trump has learned nothing from all that. (Nor has Clinton.)
I'm aware this blog today is short ofgood news. That's because there isn't any. We are now openly dominated by a new aristocracy that has the same arrogance, greed and  stupidity of the old one. Again, it's not Trump and it's not Clinton.

 Those two are just part of the sewage bobbing about on the surface. Watch for domestic violence in the U.S. as Trump fails to deliver on his promises. Watch for initernational violence as Trump uses that  to distract Americans from the domestic violence.
And note the close connections of politicians (and news media) with the new aristocrats. The new aristocrats are the product of a capitalism let free to run wild. That's what most of t he free trade deals are about- to free capitalists from following any rules -  to let them destroy plant and animal life with spraying, to let them increase the use of fossil fuels even as the politicians and the wealthy know the price of that, to help them rob the general population, to avoid paying taxes, to let them sign up  the young to fight wars for them - and call it patriotism. And notice that the Norbert Cunninghams of this world will never criticze them.

He will rail at teachers. But he would never write a word critical of  the people who own - and abuse - this province.