Friday, March 27, 2015

March 27: The University Crisis

I'll start with something that won't make the Irving press because it's not about stores closing or stores opening, or who got charged with spitting on the sidewalk. In fact, it's not even happening just in New Brunswick.

Last week, thousands of Montreal students flooded Montreal streets to protest Quebec cuts to university funding. Well, it's understandable. If Mr. Irving were to flip a dime to a street beggar, it would be page 1. But who cares about thousands of students in Montreal?  Well, this isn't just about Montreal.

Universities are in very serious trouble - trouble that comes in two parts.

One part is that their funding is being cut - with very deep cuts in some provinces. Even as it is, they are really way too expensive for most families. But the economy is doing well only for the very, very rich. Graduates now routinely have to  run up huge debts. In the US, it's so bad that it's common for university debts to continue into retirement.

Other countries, even poorer ones, provide free university education. But I guess that might mean asking our very, very rich to pay taxes. And we don't what them to do that because if they get really, really, really rich then they'll make us rich, too. Or, maybe, not quite so poor. Maybe.

As well, the people who donate money to universities do it for a payback. They want research that will make them money - now. They want research that puts the blame on us rather than them for our economic problems. They don't give a damn about training minds. It's all about profits - for them.

What this means is that universities are becoming an impossible dream for a great many Canadians. And that's bad because you can never tell. It's quite possible that the children of the  poor and the middle class could be almost as smart and and almost as good for us as the children of the very, very rich if they had a chance.

(Oh, I know there are quite a few morons among the very, very rich. But they're a much better class of moron than we peasants are.)

And that's only half of the crisis. The other half is that universities, as educational institutions, have made virtually no progress in the last thousand years or so. In those early days, higher education meant sitting on a rock to listen to a wise man in a cave. There has been no education advance since those days.

Universities are obsessed with the status of research. Teaching doesn't matter. And teaching methods haven't changed since the days of the cave and the rock. For a start, course outlines commonly reflect no understanding or how or why people learn. Of all the courses I took in some nine years of university, I would say the majority, by far, were a waste of time. Universities seem to have no understanding of how to design a curriculum - and they don't care.

For example, understanding how to mark is essential to good teaching. Most university teachers don't even know how to set an exam, much less mark it. Nor do they want to know. That's why students - who know even less than the professors do about examinations - are commonly hired to do the marking.

Many, many professors consider teaching an intrusion on the great thoughts they are pondering. That's where prestige lies. And a system like that produces people so lacking in teaching skills they don't even know how to speak to a class. They assign expensive textbooks that are of almost no educational value. They know nothing of the kind of teaching that produces real learning.

And, oh, the university halls reek of ego and arrogance and pomposity.

The result is a system whose teaching methods are both incompetent and very, very expensive.

And forget the idea of "good" universities. I've taught in four universities on three continents. I've spoken at many others. They're all the same. Usually, the term "good" university is simply a snobbish way of saying rich kids go there. Remember, George Bush Jr., almost certainly the most ignorant president in US history, got a master's degree from a "good" university.

We need the research, of course. We also need the learning. But we aren't getting it. We could get it, and we could get it more cheaply. But egos and snobbery get in the way.

This is a crisis that is coming your way.

The front page headline was annoying. Using the term "grits" to mean Liberals has had no meaning for well over a hundred years. So far as I know, Irving papers are the only ones who still use it.

The story is that the Liberals are looking at cutting the number of teachers in the province as a part of reducing spending. Of course. It's the teachers and students who caused this recession., and they have to pay for it - just like the minimum wage workers and all those other leeches in this province. Never mind that this province has serious educational problems. The important thing is we don't want to give any impression that the very, very rich and their wide-open theft of high profits while others suffer, and they're very expensive demands on government, and their reluctance to pay any taxes at all might have something to do with this.

In the years I have lived here, I have never seen a single line in the Irving press to suggest that the very, very rich might have something to do with our hard times. Even "policy expert" Don Savoie has never suggested it. And if you read "Over a Cliff", you'll note that we are the ones going over a cliff while the Irvings and friends just stand at the edge and wave goodbye to us.

.I am baffled at the urgency given to school bus children sharing a French/English bus. The number of children involved is small, and there seem to have been no complaints. Heck, we had no school buses in Montreal when I was a kid. So I rode on public transport in which I was commonly the only anglo. What's the big deal?

The big story on A8 is that a restaurant in Moncton might be closing. Or it might not. Nobody knows. That was thought worth a story and a big, colour photo.
The deep-thinking editorial  writer gives us an intellectual treat with a long, long editorial about how people shouldn't dump snow where they aren't supposed to. What a privilege to have such a great mind among us!.

Norbert has a column on government corruption and irresponsible use of our tax money. Amazingly, he manages to say nothing about it. And the name  Irving doesn't appear even once.

There's really nothing on the commentary page. Alec Bruce has a column on shale gas and how it will make us all rich (despite, as he suggests, that only a fool would would make a prediction on fuel prices.)

Don't worry, Alec. The shale gas companies are in no hurry, not when the price is so low. They can easily wait a year until Gallant gets the report that will tell him there's no problem. And anybody who disagrees will be looking at a line of police with combat rifles.

And, hey, there is no climate change. Don't worry about a thing.
Canada&World opens with "Turmoil in Yemen Grows". They must have bought that story at a used story sale. This is not just a 'turmoil"  This is a full scale land and air invasion - a war. It's backed by the US which, among other things, has two warships closing in. It's also backed by forces from a large number of arab countries, most of which have shown no similar enthusiasm to fight ISIS. With Saudi Arabia in the lead, this can scarcely be a war for justice and freedom and good things. It is more like a serious blow against any hope for stability in the region, an interference in Yemen's internal affairs, and one that looks as if it will spread the chaos to other countries, and maybe even draw in Russia and China. This is the American dream of world conquest gone mad.

American foreign policy has been one disaster after another for a good fifty years. Millions have died - in the name of bringing them peace and freedom - neither of which has actually be given to anybody.

And Harper has committed us to another year of this chaos which is none of our business.

The other big story is that the New Brunswick government consulted community groups on what they think should be in the budget. This, to the Irving press, is a big story.

Come off it.

The real story is that an elected government gets elected (in a democracy) by having a philosophy of the role of government and by presenting its plans. A democratic government does not ask people what to do. The decision of what to do should be made BEFORE the election. That's why we have elections.

And if they must ask somebody, why on earth would they ask random community groups? What the budget should be requires expert advice. For a government to ask people what it should do is like a doctor asking the general public how he should perform brain surgery.

This is an absurd story. It makes New Brunswick look like a hick place. If the Irving press were a real press, it would have an editorial giving the Liberal party hell for not having policy ideas in the first place - instead of today's babble about snowbanks.

However, there was one, good suggestion. Highway tolls. Boy. That'll make the very rich pay their share.  And it will be a big break for the hungry and homeless since they don't have cars.

B3 has a smashing story so special that the reporter gets her colour picture as part of the byline. It's about a woman in Toronto who just loves to breed cats.

B5 has a whole page about the Germanwings crash. I guess nothing else was happening in the world.

Well, they might have touched on Ukraine where the billionaires who are the government in Kiev are fighting each other to bleed the people of that country as much as they can. They might have had something on how the government our side installed in Kiev has impoverished the whole country so they can get their greedy fingers on everything. Funny how that hasn't been mentioned at all.

And we are involved on the side of the billionaires. Harper has decided it is necessary for Canadians to risk their lives to help the billionaires who have robbed that country blind. And he's decided it's worth the risk, even of a nuclear war as a result.

And why is there no story on the massive firings at CBC - the result of deep, government cuts to funding.
Oh, I know, some clown will say why should we fund CBC when we get private channels free? The answer is we don't get private channels free. Everything has to be paid for - and we have to pay it. We pay for those annoying ads on TV whenever we buy a product. There is no such thing as a free ride.

Additionally, private TV and radio (especially radio) do a lousy job of reporting. In particular, radio news staffs are normally way too small (and poorly trained) to cover the news. And private radio and TV both get very touchy about dealing with any news that might affect station ownership or sponsors. ( just like the Irving press.)

I've worked years for both private and CBC on radio and television. Sometimes, CBC annoyed me. And people like Harper work hard to influence it and to destroy it. But for quality of news and commentary, CBC outclasses anything in North America. And Harper is destroying. And he's destroying it BECAUSE it's good.

(Don't trust BBC news, though. It's not as bad yet as Fox is. But it's going in that direction.)


Thursday, March 26, 2015

March 26: Damn!

A reader pointed out I made a mistake in my blog of March 25.  I said the demonstration at MP Goguen's office would be on April 31. I should have said March 31. That's this coming Tuesday at noon.

The front page headline looks important. "Bilingualims giving unilingual workforce more jobs, says report.".
In the first place, language bigots are not going to change their minds based on any report. In the second place, it doesn't matter if it creates more jobs. Not everything is a matter of money. French-speaking people have every right to see, hear, and  use their language whenever they wish to.

New Brunswick should be proud that this is the only province in Canada to recognize the right of both French and English to live in their own language. It's not about jobs. It's about human rights.
The editorial today must be one of the most contemptible this newspaper has yet produced. It admits that, yes, there was something wrong with the government giving 70 million dollars of our money away to a company that was going broke - especially when the premier's father had a stake in it - and doubly especially when virtually all the senior civil servants told them not to do it.

Then the writer mutters, tut-tuts, diminishes the whole issue with a "boys will be boys" attitude.  After all, he says, we elect governments to make decision, not bureaucrats. Well, for openers, that's not true. We elect government to do what Mr. Irving tells them to do.

But even allowing for that, for a whole cabinet to ignore the advice of its own experts is worse, much worse, even than it sounds. I know the Irving press has contempt for civil servants, and licks the boots of big  money which, alone, understands how to run things. But the "bureaucrats"  usually know a lot better than the government on these issues - and, unlike big money, they're impartial.

By the end of the editorial, it's clear that we should just let big business run the province, and stop the poor from causing problems.

This editorial is not simply a matter of ignorance as usual. This is deliberate burying of a story that looks very much like a theft of $70 million of our money, a theft by the very rich. And that's not unusual. A4 has a big story about a man who robbed a bank. The man couldn't have stolen $70 million if he spent his life at it. Why the hell don't we have an editorial on the big thieves in this province?

This should be a crisis for the province. Ten of the cabinet ministers who approved the theft are still in the cabinet. And what about the people in Atcon who took that money? Where are they? Are they living in nice houses? And are police questioning Shawn Graham?

This looks like a very serious crime. So why is the Premier doing nothing much of anything about it? And why is a newspaper treating it as a minor item?

But there is a lesson here fore the very rich. If you want to steal money, don't rob a a bank. That's terribly lower class. No. Make friends with politicians and steal it from the people. You get much more that way.

Norbert has a column about how we're not supposed to criticize the legal system. In this case, it's about a Quebec lawyer who criticized a New Brunswick lawyer in his handling of the Justin Bourque case.
Stuff it, Norbert. There's a lot to question in that case. And nobody is above questioning, Norbert, not even you.

In the Bourque case, that was one, fast trial. Compare it to the case in which an Oland is accused of murdering his father. He's likely to die of old age before the trial happens. And the sentence - 3 life sentences with no chance parole for 75 years. I have no doubt the self-righteous will applaud that.

Is Bourque mentally ill? Don't be silly, says Norbert. Lots of sane people kill police for no reason every day. George Bush killed over a million - and whose complaining? An American soldier got adulation and a heroic movie about him because he killed 300 people - including children.

Yeah. It all makes sense when you think about it.

Rod Allen seems to have no capacity to write columns about anything of significance. He also seems weak on basic information. He writes, for example, that the American economy is picking up. That's going to surprise a lot of Americans. In fact, the employment situation in the US is getting worse. It looks better only because of the way statistics are collected. (Any people out of work for a long time are written out of the statistics, so the percentage of unemployed looks much lower than it really is. Never believe government employment statistics.)

Beth Lyons has a good news column about students at Mt. A who want course in indigenous (native peoples) studies. Most Canadians have a crashing ignorance of native peoples, and most brains are plugged up with myths that started with Columbus and 1492.

That's (personal plug) why my Tantramar Seniors' will start with a look at those myths - and how far they are from the realities.

Alec Bruce does a great job on childcare and its social benefits for all of us. And, again, he has a great, last paragraph. (No peeking in advance.)

There is an alarming story on page B1. A young man in Charlottetown has been arrested "on suspicion" he might be planning a terrorist attack.

It's legal to arrest a person "on suspicion" in Canada. But it's almost unheard of because it's so open to abuse. But this is the new, Harper Canada. Expect to see more arrests and imprisonments under the anti-terrorism bill. And don't kid yourself that you will be exempt.

B1 also has the story that the reason Harper extended our "mission" to Iraq is because the US wanted us to. So there you have it.

Canada, as a colony of Britain, fought two wars for Britain, (Boer War and World War 1) and lost over 60,000 killed. That's why we demanded to have the right to stop being a colony, and to decide for ourselves what wars to fight.

Now, we're a US colony.

We fought two wars for the British very, very rich. Now we fight them for the American very, very rich. Worse, we are going to include Syria as a target. That whole region is crumbling into chaos. Harper is letting us be sucked deeper and deeper into it.

The chaos has a reason. It's not because people of the middle east are just born evil. It's because the west has been killing and looting in that region for a century. Of course, people have been driven to their religion. That's what happens when you destroy the rest of their society. And the stunning brutality of the Bush war on Iraq was the final blow, driving them them into increasingly extreme forms of their religion.

You think that's no excuse. Okay. Remember Bourque and his killing of police officers. How often have you seen the TandT write about the trauma of that?

Now - imagine troops killing 30,000 people - men, women and children in Moncton. Imagine piles of rubble that were once houses. Imagine orphans, crippled and starving, sitting in our roads. Imagine the piles of bodies rotting in the sun. Imagine Moncton years later, still with no electricity, with schools largely destroyed, with massive poverty and hunger and hopelessness.

That is what has driven some Muslims to extreme religious views.  (Though they aren't nearly so extreme as those of American leaders who believe it is God's will for US billionaires to rule the world. Seriously.)

There are no limits to this war. It has nothing to do with us. Is it possible "terrorists" might attack us? Well,  yes. It could be a natural reaction when we are sending people to terrorize them. Fighting in Iraq does not make us safer. It puts us in greater danger. - though so far we have suffered more terrorism from the oil industry. Lac Megantic springs to mind.

Harper is putting us in great danger both here and in the Middle East. And he's doing it without declaring war through parliament - something our soldiers supposedly fought and died for.

B4 has a story about how those terrible "Boko Haram" extremists in Nigeria are using women and children as human shields. Isn't that terrible? Our side would never, ever kill women and children. Well, maybe sometimes.
I have a note that Foreign Affairs Minister Kenney told the press we have to defend "Canadian values".
Now, I can't find the story. But I remember Harper saying the same thing not long ago.

What the hell are "Canadian values"? Where is it written what I have to think if I am a Canadian?
Quebec has a lot of separatists. Is separatism a Canadian value? Canada starved many native peoples to death, especially in the West. Is that  a Canadian value? I'm not particularly interested in hockey. Does that disqualify me as a Canadian? Canada has a long history of bigotry - against Blacks, against Jews... Is bigotry a Canadian value? Is it a Canadian value to hang people? to use the lash on them  as they do in prisons in Saudi Arabia?  Actually, it was a Canadian value until fairly recently.

This is actually a very dangerous used of words, especially as we descend into being a police state. If there is such a thing as a list of Canadian values, and even if there isn't, then we are all in danger of becoming unCanadian and penalized for it. That's not just a "maybe". In the 1950s, the US government had a House UnAmerican Activities Committee to seek out communists. Apparently, communism was not an American value. (whereas white police who shoot unarmed Black kids is an American value?)

The committee destroyed the lives and careers of a great many, innocent people - though it never uncovered a single communist (except for a very few who had joined the party when Russia was a US ally).. But discovering communists was not what it was really about. It was playing on a public hysteria created by news media like the Irving press. The purpose was to destroy people who supported the Roosevelt social reforms. In fact, the members of the committee never even had a definition of what a communist is.

It's not just foolish and ignorant to talk about Canadian values. It's a very serious threat to freedom,and a warning of where this government is taking us.

This has been a long one. So, I'll just add one piece. It's from a reader who sent it to me.

The source, obviously, raises questions about bias. But that's true of almost any news source. In any case, the words are those of Professor Stephen Cohen who is a most eminent American scholar, and the leading US authority on modern Russia.

In brief, his point is that the US, since 1990, has been looking for a war with Russia. Putin has simply been reacting to US threats. According to Cohen, Putin has wanted closer relations with the West. But the US has its goal as the conquest of Russia to open the world to the dominance of American billionaires.

Cohen is not the first westerner to see this. It's something that has the European Union very, very worried. Greed creates stupidity.

Of course, the Irving press didn't have this story. Nor did it have another big one for the same region.

Western Ukraine, the part on our side, is in a virtual civil war among its own leaders. They are, all of them, extremely wealthy people - each looking out for himself. One actually has his own army - and the leaders are now fighting each other to get a bigger share of the spoils. It's a good example of capitalism destroying itself.

And Harper has put us in the middle of that one - to please our imperial masters on Wall St.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 25: honour and responsibility.

I have a message from a friend in Quebec.  He said he was pleased to read in his newspaper that Irving Ltd. has done the honourable and responsible thing in taking its share of responsibility for the Lac Megantic disaster.

I was astonished. The Quebec newspapers must be even bigger liars than ours are.

Irving did NOT take responsibility for anything. Forty-seven people died at Lac Megantic. Irving, as reported even in the wretched Irving press, paid $75 million dollars to avoid "costly legal fees". No responsibility was admitted for anything. This was simply an out of court settlement.

But forty-seven people are dead. And there now is not going to be any deep examination into why they died. Certainly, the Irving press won't raise the obvious question. If Irving ltd. had no responsibility, why did it pay that settlement? And that's of some passing interest to readers in Moncton. Some of those trains pass through here.

And where is Harper, the famous "get tough on crime" crusader? Why hasn't he demanded a full and public enquiry into the deaths of 47 people? Nah. He gets tough only on the old and the mentally ill.

Compare that to the treatment of Omar Khadr in a story on B4. Khadr, who has applied to a US court to have his sentence reduced, has been waiting a long time for a response. His lawyer said he should be allowed out on bail while waiting.

But a government spokesman said that letting him out on bail would undermine public confidence in the justice system, subvert international law, and annoy the US. That spokesman was either a liar or a fool.

Regarding public confidence in the justice system, nobody has shown more contempt for the justice system than Harper - and I certainly lost a lot of confidence when nobody wanted to ask questions about the 47 dead in Lac Megantic, and when Harper let Mulroney go even when he confessed to taking bribe money while he was prime minister.

Subvert international law? It's already been subverted. It's illegal to put a minor under military arrest and to place him in a prison camp. Khan was only 15 at the time, a terrified kid caught in the middle of an American attack - and, yes, American soldiers have been known to kill children. It was illegal to hold him in Guantanamo. It was illegal to torture him. It was illegal to try him before a US  military tribunal. And, under international law, it is illegal to hold him in a Canadian prison.

But, gee, we don't want to annoy the US government. Of course not. We don't even have the guts to complain when the US government ignores Canadian law by using the Northwest Passage as if it doesn't belong to Canada.

A train wreck, the fault of adults, killed 47 people in Lac Megantic. .We won't look at that - though that's a hell of a lot more Canadians than any terrorist has ever killed.

But we'll nail a terrified fifteen year old for what he did when under attack from men shooting at him.

And Canadians in general will probably support the government on this one. Racism and bigotry have become very popular in Canada.
Most of Section A is the usual crap. Moncton is getting ready for the snow to melt. Wow! Who woulda guessed? A pizzeria closed. A coffee shop closed.  Section A always reminds me of a lullaby my mother used to sing to me. "Go to sleep my lit-tle babeee." (Incidentally, I would be fascinated to know if anyone knows the Gaelic version of that. I know it was sung by Scottish women in the highlands as they beat the wool dry on a table. And the Gaelic version began "Hayla, hayla shayla...."

Anyway, it fits because section A is deliberately designed to say nothing, and keep us in a stupor.

Norbert repeats what he has said many times. Don Savoie is an "expert" on policy and, therefore, right. And Richard Saillant's  "Over the Cliff"  is the greatest book since "The Cat in the Hat". It's all a pitch to ignore the role of the very, very rich in creating our economic problems, to put all the blame for the recession on the poor and middle class, and to crucify them with cuts in social spending and services, cuts that will do nothing whatever to help the economy.

We had a well-run economy in World War 2, and for decades after it. That's because governments were forced by popular demand to do it. But the very rich never liked it. They wanted more of the pie. In fact, they wanted all of it.

The trouble began with Reagan and Thatcher killing controls on the theory that capitalism just naturally made good things happen. It doesn't. And it hasn't. We did not create the recession. Irresponsible action, largely  by banks, did that. And constant military spending, much of it corrupt, to kill people in the way of big business, made it even worse.

Now, around the world, big business has seized control of major governments. Its only purpose is to make itself richer and, as a side effect, to make us poorer. Forget the crap about economic recovery coming. It has come, a long time ago, to the very rich. And the very rich have no intention of it coming to us.

What we are likely to see is a lot more misery, a lot more suffering, tremendous changes in economic power around the world and, almost certainly violence both domestic and foreign. Uncontrolled capitalism just naturally destroys itself. Unfortunately, it takes us with it.

Gwynne Dyer has a good, well-informed column on Yemen - but that is scarcely one of the larger problems facing the world. It seems that a lot of his columns in the Irving press avoid the big questions. I wonder if Irving press sifts through his columns to find the harmless ones.

Brian Cormier has yet another pointless tale that doesn't even pretend to be a real comment on anything.

Alec Bruce, in effect, says that maritimers tend to be sheep who follow the leader, and close their eyes to reality. He's right. They're not the only ones like that. But imagination, discussion,  intellectual stimulation are rare, indeed. I saw more critical thinking in Mao's China than I do in Moncton.

Canada&World has a headline story that really is a headline story. It's about the Atcon scandal when the government lost $70 million dollars in a giveaway to a company that the father of the premier had an interest in. The Shawn Graham Liberal government became hated for it. So New Brunswickers showed their anger.. They voted for Alward's Conservatives - who then enraged them. So New Bruswickers showed the Conservatives. They voted for the Gallant Liberals so that half of the Gallant cabinet now is made up of ministers who were the same ones who created the Atcon scandal.

Boy. You don't mess around with New Brunswickers. Unless, of course, you feel like it.

And it seems our war that isn't a war in Iraq will be extended for a year, and will include killing people in Syria, too. But it still won't be a war. So we are doomed to be caught up in one hell of a mess that the US has created in the Middle East. (Well, give some credit for the mess to Britain and France).

I know. I know. Muslims are evil. It's in the genes. Funny, though, how the extremes never showed until the last 20 years or so. And funny how those nice people in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates don't seen to have those genes. They must be a separate race.

Harper has very likely pushed us into a disaster. Our killing will create more terrorists - and will give them a strong reason to put Canada in their sights. And that's barely the beginning. Israel is now pretty isolated in world opinion. Increasingly, even in Europe, the US is isolated, too. Netanyahu is now going to be under pressure to recognize a Palestinian state. And that will mean Israel will have to give back all the land it has taken from Palestine to build Israeli settlements. But Netanyahu will never agree to that. Nor will much of Israel.

And even if a deal is reached - there are well over half a  million Israelis living on the stolen land. Who is going to make them move?

American foreign policy has been pretty much a disaster for at least 50 years. It's getting worse, not only with the danger of the spread of Middle East war, but with the danger of nuclear war over Ukraine, and with the danger of wars in South America as US capitalists try to  hold on to their empire.

And Harper is committing us to get right into the middle of it. After all, we have to protect the profits of our oil billionaires.
I still have a sheet of notes - on forestry policy in New Brunswick, on the threat to medicare, on the terrible danger of Harper's anti-terrorism bill...and on. We are living in a very dangerous period, and the lunatics are in charge of the government and the economy.

Oh, just in case the Irving press forgets to mention it, there will be a peaceful demonstration about the real and imminent threat to medicare I grew up in a Canada without it. I knew and remember many people who suffered and died because we didn't have it. On Tuesday, April 31 at noon, we shall rally at the office of Robert Goguen at 34 King St. I look forward to seeing you there. As an added attraction, you can be sure that Robert Goguen won't be there.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 24: Stop the presses!

Page A1. Banner Headline.

A land purchase has been approved so Sobeys  can build a new store in Dieppe. Be still, my heart.

Actually, there is an important story on A1, just a little down and to the left of the thrilling headline about Sobeys. "Moncton psychiatrist 'shocked' with changes at Shepody. This is a treatment centre for psychiatrically  ill patients, largely from Dorchester Penitentiary. (And there can be a lot of those just counting the ones who become ill and dangerous to themselves and others simply from living in prison conditions. I've seen more than a few.)

A Moncton psychiatrist who has worked there for many years says the change means a vastly inferior level of mental health service for patients.  And, as a reporter should do, the reporter for this story checked with spokespeople at the Shepody Centre who, as all spokespeople do, said everything is fine.

The reporter also quoted the psychiatrist as saying the decision was made in Ottawa. Now, can we all put our thinking caps on? Could we put 1 and 1 together to think of somebody else to ask? - to find out who made the decision and why? perhaps to ask if cost-cutting was a factor?

An editor looking at the story should have told the reporter to phone officials in Ottawa why this decision was made. He should have told the reporter to ask more questions about financial factors in this decision.

After all, Harper has taken a very hard-nosed approach to crime (except in the case of a former Conservative Prime Minister caught stealing.). Hang 'em high. Put 'em away for a thousand years. It pulls in the idiot vote. As well, he likes to cut social spending because cuts like that make it easier to reduce the dreadful tax burden on billionaires.

It doesn't work of course. The US has always used hard-nosed methods to fight crime. That's why it has the largest prison population in the world, and some of the worst prison conditions, including lots and lots of torture. It also hangs or gasses with a generous hand. George Bush Jr. (born again Christian) took a special delight in approving executions when he was governor of Texas. Utah is restoring the firing squad.

And it doesn't work. It has never worked. If you want to improve your chances of getting murdered, visit the US. It has far, far the highest murder rate in the developed world. Among teenagers, the chances of getting murdered are 17 times higher in the US than in the rest of the developed world.

There are lots of questions to be asked about our penal system. The Irving news has never asked any of them.

The editorial writer takes up the fact that federal rules now call for a new sewage plant for what this paper loves to call Metro. By some logical gymnastics, he manages to connect that with our desperate need for an events centre. Then he leaps to a Public private partnership as the ideal answer.

Yes, that would be cheaper for rate payers  - though it is not a magic wand. The bill still has to be paid, and taxpayers have to pay it. I don't know how to put this gently to the editorial writer, but he private part of these "partnerships"  is frequently a corrupting influence in the terms of the contract. That's why both the Liberals and Conservatives get lavish campaign donations from the very rich.

Norbert has a column about the future of TV. I feel awkward writing about it because I stopped watching it years ago, recently got it installed again - and have yet to find anything worth watching on all those hundreds of channels. In any case, I found the column so wordy and so close to the tone of a rant that it was really unintelligible. Norbert, you really need an editor to help you write for  your audience.

Loved Alec Bruce's column. It's about Canadian MPs who have recently made racist statements. To get the real punch of this column, it's important to read the whole column - especially including the last two paragraphs (but don't cheat and read them first.)

Louise Gilbert has an interesting column on her work to make Moncton a "senior friendly" city. And that gives me a chance to put in a plug for myself. (Sound of trumpets.)

"Tantramar Seniors" has organized classes and discussion groups for many years. The registration for the Spring series is on April 4.  On that day, I shall be at registration from noon at Lion's Community Centre on St. George near Vaughan Harvey, and at 2:30 at People's Park Tower at 960 St. George. The courses are open to anyone 50 or older.

It's partly me talking but,  I hope, with the class jumping in. It's just three classes of about an hour and a half each. The course is called "Lies my history teacher told me." It will probably start with Christopher Columbus who did NOT discover the New World, and who did NOT prove the world is round.

We'll also discuss why history textbooks so often tell lies. Christopher Columbus not only did not discover the New World, but the people he met were NOT savages. However, there is a reason why they had to be called savages, and why we were told that Columbus, a European, was the discoverer.

Remember the story of American Senator McCarthy and his campaign against American communists?
Actually, it had nothing to do with communists.

Feel free to bring up your own ideas or questions that have always puzzled you.

Canada&World opens with an excellent headline story. It's a "feel good" story. But there's excellent reason to "feel good", and even to be inspired by it. It's about a Fredericton man who served with the army in Afghanistan, was wounded and, probably as a result of that, was dismissed from the army. He was crushed, but found a new life. It comes from a project by New Brunswick's Horizon Health Network, to help released veterans and children of 14 to 17 find a new purpose and joy in life.

I have no first-hand information about this. But it sounds most impressive.

And that's about it for section B.

Ted Cruz, a Texan  born in Canada (Calgary) is running for president in the US. There's big picture of Cruz, and a big story. I have no idea why. He's so far right even right wing Republicans think he's a nutbar. However, two comments, one by Cruz and one by a Republican voter did bother me.

According to Cruz, "If you can't be born in conservative America, Calgary is about as close to second best as the world has to offer." What bothers me is that he's right.

The voter said, "As far as I'm concerned Canada is not really foreign soil." Isn't it great for us to be recognized as American property?

The same page tells us that Harper met behind "closed doors" with NATO's chief. Oooh , oooh. Closed doors. And with the chief. Who cares?

Harper is a puppet who has no international stature at all, and no influence on events. Canada threw that away years ago.

B3 has a story about our ISIL "mission", and how we need to take part to strengthen global security. Right. After murdering several millions in Vietnam, a million and a half in Iraq, uncounted numbers in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, and after the overthrow of elected governments in Egypt, Ukraine and Haiti, and after the attempted overthrow of an elected government in Venezuela, I feel more secure already. Peace and love are in the air.

In reality, the most destabilizing force in the world for most of my life has been the government of the United States working in the service of its billionaires who want to control the whole world.  Defeating ISIL (or whatever its name of the day is) won't stabilize anything. This whole mess has been caused in the first place by a century of the West killing Muslims for their oil.  Killing more of them is not a cure. It is, at best, the sacrifice of lives on both sides to satisfy greed.

The result of all this killing has really been to destabilize the whole world to a degree never before seen. Greed makes people stupid. Really stupid.

A couple of stories, perhaps related to the above, don't seem to have made the Irving press. Obama has declared Venezuela a threat to American security. Isn't it just terrible the way those small and poor countries are always threatening the US? That was the trouble with that elected government of Haiti that the US had to defend itself against.

Obama has also reminded Cuba that the US lists it as a terrorist country. Over the past 60 years, the US has bombed Cuba, sponsored an invasion of it, made uncounted attempts to murder Castro, planted bombs in hotels, and blown up a Cuban civil airliner killing all aboard. To add to that, Cuba was a country ruled by terror - but that was when it was controlled by the US through a dictator and his thugs.

To best of my memory, there has never in history been a Cuban attack on the US. But ya gotta watch them Cubans. They're sneaky.

Will US relations with Cuba ever settle down?  Not likely. Cuba is a country run for the Cuban people. American capitalists will never accept that. It has to be ruled for profit only. Like New Brunswick. (No, I'm not exaggerating. Read almost any editorial in the TandT.)

Finally, I don't believe I've yet seen a story of any substance about the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank sponsored by China. The US is dead set against it because US institutions like World Bank and International Monetary Fund give American billionaires a stranglehold on economies around the world. And, oh, they have used it brutally.

The US has made it very, very clear to its allies it wants nothing to do with the AIIB, and wants its allies to do the same. But the allies are defying the US.   Britain, which usually snivels and sniffs at American boots, has taken membership in the AIIB. So have Australia, Saudi Arabia, most of the European Union, and most of Asia. Oh, and Russia.

This is a massive change in whole economic and strategic structure of the world. It could well be a death blow to US economic dominance and to the American dollar, itself. We have seen no change in our lifetimes to match the potential of this one.

And there is the US, bogged down in the mess it has created in the Middle East. The very greedy might well now be very, very stupid, and decide this is their last chance to strike for world dominance - a dominance which, at this point, could be achieved, it at all, only by surprise, nuclear attacks on Russia and China.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A change of pace....

This is about politics - but equally about religion, Christianity it particular. And I'm sure it will please neither politicians nor Christians. It begins with a very short story to set the tone.

My first job as a teacher was with a grade seven class. The school nurse came to see me. One of the girls in my class was, she thought, seriously ill. Could I drive her home, and make it clear to her parents that she had to see a doctor immediately.

So I drove her home where her mother (stepmother) answered the door. I could almost feel the hatred between the girl and her stepmother. I explained the situation. The stepmother was uncertain. They were planning to go to their country cottage at supper time. (It was Friday.) I explained the situation again, emphasizing what the nurse had said about how this might be serious, and seeing a doctor immediately was essential. She nodded and closed the door.

When I got to class on Monday morning, the girl's boyfriend, Tommy, was standing at the door with several other students. They were in tears. The girl had died on Sunday.

Her parents had decided to go to the country without the delay of an hour or so to see their doctor. The daughter passed out at the cottage on Sunday morning. They raced to get her to a hospital. But it was too far away. She died shortly after admission.

Furious, I rushed into the principal's office. I asked that the school board be contacted to lay charges against the parents.

"Well, now, Mr. Decarie, we don't want to create any unpleasantness, do we? All this would just create a fuss and upset people; and we don't want to upset people, do we? Wouldn't this be a much nicer world if only people were just nice to each other?"

Yes, the principal was quite a stupid man. He was principal only because his father was chairman of the school board. And the father was chairman of the school board only because he was a prominent Christian clergyman who never rocked the boat, and who taught his son his version of Christian principles.

Make of that what you will.

George Bush, Jr. is a mass murderer. What else would you call a man who deliberately lied to congress and the American people so they would go to war with Iraq, and kill far over a million men, women and children? What would you call a man who launched the biggest torture programme in history?

At the time he lied and murdered, he was a born-again Christian. He still is, and a regular church attender. Few seem to think this odd.

Mr. Bush, who also made millions of dollars by questionable means, and while he was in public service, earlier discovered he had faith in Jesus. He is saved, hallelujah, guaranteed the right to stroll for eternity on the golden streets of the New Jerusalem.

But surely there is a dreadful gap between what he has faith in, and the way in which he has spent his life.
And he's by no means alone.

Canadians and Americans, like most people in this world, are getting poorer while the rich get richer, and put their money into foreign banks where it can't be traced for taxes. The result is dreadful suffering, hunger, homelessness, hopelessness....  Is it possible the Christian Bible says nothing whatever about this?

For five centuries, western Christians have murdered and pillaged all over the world. The number of dead is unknown. Whole societies, like China, were destroyed with a resulting massive chaos and suffering that lasted over a century.

When I was a child, my church had a union jack beside the pulpit. And a picture of the king and queen. At concerts, the choir sang Rule, Britannia....

In the US, churches have led in the way cheering for killing and exploitation. The motive for killing native peoples in the US, invading Canada in 1812, and inflicting death and terrible hardship to this day on the the people of Latin America  was something called Manifest Destiny. Yes, It was God's will that the US should rule the Americas -and the churches cheered the loudest for it.

Manifest Destiny has evolved into what is called American Exceptionalism - which is the same thing, but applied to the whole world. Thus the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and now, perhaps, Russia.  The real cause of these wars has been the greed of American big business. But few churches say that. So they accept the motive that has justified Western brutalities for the last five centuries. Racism.

The conquests and the murders and the thefts were okay because those other people weren't like us. No. They were inferior racially. Therefore, it was all right to enslave Africans, kill or steal the land of native peoples, murder Asians. That helps to explain the profound racism that has characterized the very nicest people, especially the upper classes who made fortunes out of the murdering, all over Europe.

Hitler did not invent racism. It has flourished all over Europe and North America for centuries. That's why native North Americans were so commonly called 'savages'. There was really nothing savage about them. But calling them savage was a way of proclaiming they were inferior racially; so we were justified in treating them like animals.

Today's 'inferior race' are muslims. Apparently, their inferiority is racially inherited. So it's okay for us to kill them. Canada, this nation so largely of Christians, is 70% in favour of killing them.  Harper can score points by publicly insulting a Muslim woman for her savagery in wearing a veil.

Almost the only world religious leader to point out how loutish we are becoming is Pope Francis. But his pronouncements have had virtually no effect.

Now, I do not say that church leaders should make pronouncements. (Nor will they, anyway).

But what they desperately need to do is to help Christians to think. Perhaps I should write it THINK.

There is something seriously wrong with a faith that requires only that they believe in some god or other.
If you read the scriptures of any major religion, they are not just about believing. They are about doing.
And to DO, we need to be able to think. We need to know what is happening. We need to know why it is happening.

Is it possible, for example, that the reason we are killing people in the middle east is that the middle east is full of oil? Is it possible the reason we are prepared to kill and to die for the Ukraine has something to do with western billionaires getting control of the whole world economy?

And how does this hold up in the face of the scriptures we claim we have so much faith in?

If you are a church-goer and are respected in this society of murderers and thieves, you should be ashamed of yourself. As I look at Liberals and Conservatives and Democrats and Republicans and as I look at big business, I don't see a trace of Christian principles. - or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Confucianism in any of them.

Anyone who claims any faith in any religion and who cooperates with the dominant powers in this world is an unthinking hypocrite.

What the churches should be doing is taking a break from pancake breakfasts and Mothers' teas, and they should be holding regular meetings that stimulate their members to think, to expose them to a range of opinion, to encourage them to see what is happening and to see it in a Christian context.

It's nice to have faith. But save the mindless handclapping for Jesus.  You have all of eternity for that.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 22: Just a short one today....

..and scattered in topics.

I forgot to mention the Faith Page sermonette in Saturday's paper. It was the usual holy wimp stuff, this time assuring us that St. Patrick was a nice man.

When Jesus spoke, he looked at problems around him in the world of his time. He looked at cruelty, at indifference to human suffering, at greed.... And those were much of what he talked about. We live in a world driven by cruelty, greed, self-interest, indifference to the suffering of others, mass murder.....

And it's not just happening on the "other side". It's happening here and all over the world, and much of it led by nominal Christians.

I don't expect our clergy to take stands against the mass murder we commit or against the greed we call an economic system. Most of the Christian churches in Germany didn't take such a stand against Naziism. And I don't think ours would have the courage or integrity to take such a stand. Nor would I be particularly happy to see a church attempting to move in on political power. But... would be nice to see our churches encouraging discussion among the congregants, encouraging them to (dare I say it?) think, to see our world, our country, our province in the light of religious teaching - all those things Christians claim to believe in - but which they show no evidence of caring about.

Note - I don't mean churches should tell people what to think. I mean it should encourage them to think; and it should encourage them to publicly discuss what is happening in the light of the scriptures. It would be a nice break from pancake suppers with country and western gospel singers.

I am always bothered by the sloppy and ignorant use of words by our prime minister, our journalists and, in consequence by a great many of us.

For example, Harper is determined to build a huge monument to victims of communism.
In reality, there are no victims of communism. That is not a defence of communism. It is simply a matter of fact. There have been no victims of communism because there never has been a communist state. The theory of communism has nothing to do with dictatorship, or prison camps, or mass murder. It does not mean the government owns everything.

I know Stalin called himself a communist. He wasn't. After all, George Bush who lied to murder over a million men, women and children to steal Iraqi oil calls himself a Christian. Lying like that happens all the time.

Communist theory comes from, as much as anything, eminently Christian principles - that people should love and care for one another, and should cooperate to create the best possible conditions for everyone. The people should all "own" the industry and resources of a country, and should all cooperate in running them.

No modern state has ever operated on such principles. And no modern state now or ever has shown the slightest sign of being ready to do that. The closest we have ever come to such a form of government was in some of our native societies that we destroyed long ago. (But which worked very well - and without police or prisons.)

Communism became a dirty word because countries that weren't communist but which called themselves communist became an economic threat to capitalism (which is based on no Christian principles whatever). It was especially useful in the McCarthy witch hunt (House UnAmerican Activities Committee) which was used to smear and destroy those perceived as enemies of capitalism. (During World War 2, both Canada and the US adopted government economic controls and social programmes that big business detested. The hunt for communists was used to discredit those programmes and to destroy both the programmes and government controls on big business.)

A similar stand based on "Canadian values" has been exploited by Harper to make villains of Muslim women who wear veils. Nobody knows what "Canadian values" are. But it gets Harper the bigot vote. (Maybe getting the bigot vote is a "Canadian value".)

Another propaganda term that is annoying is "public-private partnerships." This refers to such things as government contracting out its work to private business. Private business loves this because it's usually easy to get highly profitable terms for big business from governments that depend on big business for campaign funding. It's frequently corrupt and it's easy money.

But the word 'partnerships" is the key one. The word partner implies equality. Big business and government work together as equals.

But, in a democracy, business and government are not equals. In a democracy, business of any size is subject to government authority, just as we all are. In a democracy, we elect government to govern everyone including the very richest. In a democracy, all of us are subject to the government that all of us elect. In a democracy, there is no inner and separate society that is equal to government.

Business leaders have been fighting their way loose of democracy for the last 50 years and more. That's what free trade is for - to get big business free of being subjects of a democracy. That's what gave Mr. Irving the arrogance to declare himself a member of of the Alward government so that instead of government governing him, he governs the government.

That's why the key for New Brunswick to become free and to progress and to set policies that benefit us all, we need to elect a government that will put the Irvings of this world where they should be - as voters rather than as rulers.

It's not going to be easy. Big business is quite without scruples or any moral values. And New Brunswickers are not and never have been much in the way of political thinkers. But unless we get control of big business in this province, we aren't ever going anywhere. Big business exists not to give, not to 'create' jobs but to take as much as it can, giving back as little as it can, and storing the profits in offshore banks so they won't even have to pay taxes on them. So long as big business controls this province, there will never be a revival. It will always be poor.

It isn't going to be easy, and it's going to take educational work.

There is not the slightest reason to hope that the Conservatives or the Liberals will do anything. Quite the contrary. They've long since been bought.

The NDP, if it's to be of any use at all, has to shake itself out of its torpor, and out of its vague idea of doing "good things". Until the dominance of corporations as states within a state is tackled, nothing is going to happen. Increasingly, the NDP has come to see elections entirely in terms of games to win. They aren't. Until it convinces people that big money dominance is forever going to leave them and their children poor, until it convinces them that big money must be faced down, the NDP is going nowhere. And the Green party, while intelligent and well-intentioned, is going nowhere for the same reason. The starting point -and it's going to be a tough one - is to convince New Brunswickers that they are being cheated and bullied to make a few people super rich. In consequence, they and their children and their grandchildren will suffer.

In short, New Brunswickers have to be made to wake up. And it's not going to be as easy as when the prince kissed Snow White.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 21: Something your will not see in the Irving papers.....

,,,And maybe not here, either. I am late because my computer is acting strangely. I have, for hours, been attempting to send a book review to you. It's called Irving vs. Irving. But every attempt fouls up my computer........

No use. It won't copy the text in any readable form.  So, here's the scoop.

The book is by CBC journalist Jacques Poitras. The full title is "Irving vs. Irving: Feuding Billionaires and the Stories they Won't Tell", You can get it through Viking Press. Good luck in looking for it in a New Brunswick bookstore or a New Brunswick library. The reviewer is sociology Professor Erin Steuting of Mount A.

This would be a superb book for Norbert to read. I mean, he reads stuff, big stuff like Atlantic Monthly all the time. And he could do a column on this. He could even lend his copy to his distinguished expert on policy planning, Dr. Don Savoie of U de Moncton - and his little circle of people who tell us all about the world we're not smart enough to figure out. (U de Moncton should be ashamed of its association with these people.)

For example, it's fascinating to read of the tax free haven in Bermuda where the Irvings can store away all their money  without paying any tax on it. Gee, professor Savoie, I wonder if that has anything to do with our provincial budget problems.

The book also goes into tales of lying and propaganda in the Irving press. It seems the Irvings also meddle in the news business to run it just like any other big business. One of their bright ideas was to have all reporters and editorial staff to be dressed like gas station attendants as a team spirit builder. It's a crackpot idea that has never been used by any news medium I have ever heard of in the whole world.

Another imposed bit of brilliancy is that writers must produce at least 1,500 words a day in order to get their full salaries. That means that if all you know is that the world will end at noon tomorrow, you need a Brent Mazerolle who can fluff out that sentence to get a full 1,500 words. (Not that it would matter at that point.)

The reality is not just that the Irving s abuse us with the drivel they publish. More than that, it shows they don't have a clue about how to run a newspaper. They live in a world in which everything should be run like a big business., The trouble is that many things can't be. A newspaper is one. A health system is another. There are many social needs to be met - and business methods of operation don't work for them.

(Gosh,, give a copy of this book to the Irving clique at U de Moncton). Hey! Assign a copy for the JDIrving Reading Race in the schools.

The reality is the Irvings seem to have no insight to anything except greed. They (and the business community in general) have no idea how to run a newspaper, schools, hospitals or - pay attention, Dr. Savoie - a provincial budget. They are worse than incompetent. They are destructive.

But that has not prevented them from sticking their noses into education, hospitals, and provincial budgets and policies. It also does not prevent them from using Atlantic Institute of Market Studies to generate propaganda on topics they know nothing about and, often, don't really care about. And it didn't prevent J.D. in Alward's term from naming himself a member of the government, and appointing advisors to the Minister of Finance.

Understand this clearly. The Irvings are not just abusive and manipulative. They are also and utterly incompetent outside their narrow field of business. They show no understanding of what a society is and, indeed, they show every sign of not giving a damn what it means.

And I would dearly love to find an honest accountant to figure out how much they cost us every year, and how much taxation they avoid.

The big news in section A - well, some Moncton businessmen are being inducted into the Hall of Fame for being businessmen who, as we know, as the only people in this world who can be called leaders. Then there's the usual story about the JDIrving reading race in the schools - which is not just a waste of time; it's actually destructive. Reading is not about racing through books. It's about understanding. It's about making judgements. It's about thinking. And none of these is encouraged by racing.

 In graduate school, I had so many books to read, I had to read very, very quickly. I would force the pace, running my hand down the page, going through quite advanced books in an hour or less. I remember vividly going through a history of French rebellions by a Russian author (Porchnev). It was written in French and was over 700 pages. I did it in a little over an hour. I remembered it well enough to take a leading part in class discussion the next day. Now, I don't remember a word of it.

A few weeks ago, I read a book of some 400 pages about what's wrong with the way we teach history. I read it slowly. And I frequently went back to re-read some parts. And for several days, I would pick it up just to open pages at random. It had a profound impact on my thinking; and I'll never forget it.

Education, Mr. Irving, is not a business.

The editorial is a prize sample of using business thinking in dealing with the civil service. And, of course, it quotes "public policy expert" Dr. Don Savoie.

Good cartoon by de Adder. It could use a little more edge. In Montreal, I knew the political cartoonist for The Gazette, Aislin. (In fact, he once featured me in his daily cartoon.) I was then teaching for a few years in a Catholic University. Aislin did a cartoon of the president - who was a priest. In the cartoon, the priest was using his crucifix as a slingshot.

Norbert has a rant whose main point seems to be that the civil service is too big, and doesn't run enough like a big business. Norbert, course, knows nothing about either the civil service or big business. Here's a tip, Norbie, grow the guts to do a column on Irving vs. Irving.

Brent Mazerolle has a column about something foolish said by a Toronto columnist,  Lysiane Gagnon. I've read enough of Gagnon's stuff to know she writes a lot of foolish things. I don't understand why Mazerolle would write a column about her saying something foolish when few in NB have ever heard of her, and what she said  makes no difference, anyway.

Then they have a commentary column by Premier Gallant!!!  I don't think I've ever seen that before. If Gallant wants to make a publicity statement, and that's all this is, he should spend his party's money on an ad.

Then, at last, Bill Belliveau is dynamite. He's on A13 with a well-written, take-no-prisoners column on Harper and his anti-terrorism bill. This is what an opinion column should be. Well done.
Canada&World  has nothing useful to say about anything. However, there is a very, very suggestive story hidden away on B5. Irving Oil will be paying $75 million to the city of Lac Megantic to help is recover from its railway disaster.Isn't that sweet of Irving Oil?

Now, read paragraph two. It's a statement by an Irving spokesman.

"We fully support the establishment of the fund as an industry-wide response to the tragedy, which will provide substantial payments without further lengthy legal proceedings." What a fascinating bit of double-talk.

..we fully support..industry-wide..." Gee. Just like Rotary Club, all those industries getting together like the splendid chaps they are. Exactly what industry is he talking about - and with how many companies?

...................without proceedings."

What legal proceedings? We haven't heard about any. It was certainly odd when there was no follow-up on the story about Irving Oil offices being investigated  at the time. It was odd we never heard anything about how somebody at Irving Oil signed the manifesto certifying the oil being carried was much less dangerous than it really was. And I wonder how all that is connected with the Irving use of oil cars that were fragile, and the use of railway with a a bad record, and with only one crewman for that whole trip. I'm sure all that saved money.

So - this isn't just good-hearted fellows passing the hat. There's the "further legal proceedings." In other words, it seems that Irving Oil is paying its way out of what could be serious charges and lawsuits.

Good for Mr. Irving of our Philanthropic Hall of Fame fame. I'm sure the 50 or so dead and their surviving relatives will be suitably grateful.