Saturday, October 18, 2014

Oct. 18: Let's start with the Faith page, I mean...

I mean what the hell.... we live in religious society. Right? Business operates on principles of being charitable, loving neighbours, etc...  I mean that's why we have an Irving Chapel in celebration of Judaic-Christian principles. This time, the sermonette on the faith page is about Thanksgiving Day.   (There's also, as a sign of the free-thinking of the writer of the sermonette, a daring statement that God does not create hurricanes. No doubt there are also people who will think its worth arguing about that.)

As Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O'Hara, "Frankly, I don't give a damn." Nor do I see such an insight having any use to anybody. No doubt, though, some damfool will found a new church based on that. They could call it the "Windless Church of Christ" - but that might lead to confusion with too many other churches.

Anyway, the idea that the American pilgrim fathers were the first to celebrate thanksgiving (and that it was essentially a religious experience) is pure bunk. The practice of feasting to celebrate the harvest goes back all over the world for nobody knows how many thousand years. Commonly, it was not a religious occasion.

The myth our modern thanksgiving was created by American history books to create the impression that the Pilgrim Fathers were the founders of a nation devoted to good works and faith.  Indeed, the American nation is part of God's great plan. (If it was part of God's great plan, then God must have planned the slaughter of native peoples, the American aggressions and killings and exploitations all over the world, including Canada, and the current idea that US has a right to rule the world. That's what the term "American exceptionalism" means; and it is currently the official position of both the Democrats and the Republicans - though I don't believe it has ever been mentioned in the Irving press.)

Incidentally, the US government did not recognize Thanksgiving as an official holiday until the Civil War, when Lincoln needed something to associate his war with "God's great plan".

The reality is that we don't live in a society that has religious principles of any sort. The very rich are running wild in scooping up the world's wealth. In the US, the wealth gap is bigger than it's been in a least a century. In Canada, as most people get poorer, the super-rich are making their biggest profits in history. They're doing it by exploiting the poor (especially those in really poor countries), by hiding their money, by controlling governments (in fact, buying them), and by destroying the environment.

They are greedy without limit, and the greed makes them short-sighted. Put together greed and short-sightedness, and you get stupidity and destruction - and self-destruction.

The writer of today's Faith Page column is a preacher who describes himself as progressive. But just like the others, he writes a column that makes no connection whatever between religious concepts of morality and ethics and religious teaching with the reality of our daily behaviour.

No wonder so few go to church.  My advice to the clergy is to understand that religious teaching is meant as a guide for daily life, real life, and was designed to influence our daily behaviour. Remembering that, try to write something that connects religion to real life.

We are living in a world - and a country - characterized by greed, destructiveness and stupidity. And it is getting worse. And too often the churches are in bed with the greedy and the destructive and the stupid.

So, to all of you clergy and the many of you self-righteous, it's time to get past the pious words and to give meaning. For Christ's sake.
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As that long foreword suggests, there isn't much in the Times and Transcript.

In the Friday edition, Alec Bruce has a strong  ( and worrying) column about the collapsing price of oil. He doesn't really understand why this is happening; and he doesn't pretend to. And that makes it more worrying because Mr. Bruce has a far better understanding of the economy than anybody else I have seen in the Irving press (or most others).

David Suzuki roasts Canadian government as among the slackets in the world in copying with environmental destruction. Harper has been, for some time, making it worse by slipping through bills that make it legal to destroy the environment - as in allowing mines to dump their poisonous tailings into lakes and streams. Greed and short sightedness and stupidity. And we'll all pay a price for it.

(I"m aware that Norbert thinks poisoning the environment is good for you, and that environmentalists are all crazy. I'm also aware big-hearted industrialists like oil producers have spent billions to assure us that it's all perfectly safe - and there is no climate change.  That, alone, should tip us all off that those industrialists have been lying to us. They're not big on spending money to help us.)

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In NewsToday, there's a story on B1 "Federal bill to expand anti-terrror powers." Harper intends to give CSIS (our equivalent of the Gestapo) the power to prevent their sources of information from giving testimony at the trials of people they charge with terrorism.  Sounds harmless?

Well, we (it is said)live in freedom and democracy. And in such a state, everyone is entitled to a fair trial. How can there possibly be a fair trial when key witnesses cannot be questioned in court - or even identified?
This is one more step in taking away our rights and freedoms with the excuse of protecting our rights and freedoms. In the US, a similar attitude has allowed the US to deport or imprison Palestinian-Americans. And it's done in cooperation with Israeli intelligence,

Some day, we're going to wake up to realize we've slept through the deliberate destruction of rights and freedoms. It's already happened by scaring people into believing that terrorists are going to kill them in their beds. (Actually, people have been killed in their beds - but by police in the US. It has become common to break into homes at night "on suspicion", and to shoot to kill. The break-ins now number in the tens of thousands. A few days ago, a courageous policeman shot to death a seven-year-old girl who was asleep. Well, she had to be protected from them there terrorists  who might have killed her in her bed.)

In the attempt to hold the town of Kobadi on the Turkish border, Kurds have asked for more weapons from the world.  Well, why not? Most of the weapons in fighting in the middle east were made in the USA. These are good times for the American military-industrial complex.

But don't get me wrong. I mean, it's terrible the way ISIS is killing Kurd civilians. I'm sure it was nicer in 1920 when Churchill ordered intense bombing of civilians in Kurd villages.

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Friday has a promising headline. "Salary guide shows region's top earners".  So, at last, publication of the Irving's yearly pay.....  Well, no. but it does say top dollar is $118,00O a year.. So I guess the Irvings must be getting about that. And that would explain their low taxes.

A3 for Friday has a good story on 'Living wage concept gains traction". This means a wage which really reflects what it takes to live on - and a minimum of $10 an hour doesn't do that. Actually, it makes sense for business, too, because you can't make money out of a market in which people can't afford to buy what you have to sell. But big business, in particular, has never understood that. (Well, I said it was short-sighted, greedy and stupid.  Instead, big business operates on the old colonial principal - to exploit people of the empire for the benefit of big business in the "mother" country.)

It doesn't work. You need customers. And you can make those only by offering a living wage.
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To my great relief, Dr. Norbert Cunningham says there's no reason to worry about Ebola. He says there have been other health scares that didn't pan out. Therefore, this one won't.

Then he switches gears to say we should be very concerned and should prepare for it. And, yes, we should.

But where are the streets that are full of people running in panic? Where is the hysteria? I haven't seen any.

What I've seen is a very disorganized response to the outbreak in Africa, and very disorganized preparations being made here for it. And yes, that does concern me. And I am concerned when the major US response is to send troops. And I am concerned the the world's muted response in sending help.

Norbert ends with a couple of limp suggestions and, of course, a quite irrelevant quotation, "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."

Brilliant. If we understand nuclear weapons better, we won't fear them. Norbert, Einstein feared them. I was told that by his friend and disposer of his will who wrote a book called 'Einstein on Peace'.

Brent Mazerolle's"opinion" column is another bedtime story about himself. For something of more substance, look down to Gwynne Dyer on how world opinion is turning against Israel. Help for Israel is  holding firm in the US with voters of 50 or more, but is strongly opposed by the younger generations. And that's a real danger sign for all of us.

Israel has just illegally annexed another 1000 acres of Palestinian land, and kicked its people out. With opinion severely turning against Israel, Netanyahu may well decide he was to move now to annex all Palestinian land, and get rid of all Palestinian people. He might even decide that it's now or never to launch a nuclear attack on Iran.

Of course, he still has Harper's assurance that Canada will stand by him come hell of high water.

I'm surprised at the continuing absence of any news about Ukraine. The Kiev government is proving utterly inept, and is actually demanding that Russia continue its gas supply to it, even if Ukraine refuses to pay for the last several years of gas. The Kiev government has consistently broken the ceasefire terms, and has blocked peaceful settlements - and the American press has consistently not reported it.

I'm quite sure the US has been behind the  government coup in Ukraine, and that it wants a war with Russia.
Norbert, some things do panic me. And among them are the stunning messes of American foreign policy and the deliberate looking for wars. The mess is the Middle East policies which created ISIS and which will continue to get worse even if the "coalition" kills every person fighting for ISIS. American policy created ISIS. If it now defeats ISIS, that will create a worse form of it.

The US response in Ukraine has consistently been aggressive and negative. ( and please don't tell me they're doing it to defend democracy. No country goes to war to save democracy. In any case, Ukraine had a democracy. The present government of Ukraine is the one that destroyed it.)

Remember, God wants America to rule the world. That belief is what made Thanksgiving Day into a holiday. And the time to take over the world is running short.

Onward Christian soldiers.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Oct. 16: Sometimes it's easier to talk about what's not in the Irving press...

...than to talk about what is. For example...

The Wall St. Journal for Oct. 14 says that the reason third world countries lack enough health workers is because Canada, the US and Europe encourage health workers in those countries to emigrate to them. The poor countries pay the bills to train them. Then we grab them, free. The result is that the poor countries can't even deal with normal conditions, let alone crises.

Really, rich countries should be offering free university training to produce adequate numbers of health workers. A tiny and poor country like Cuba can do it, and it has supplied large numbers of doctors to Liberia as well as to South America. Big and rich countries like Canada and the US can't afford it. There's something wrong with this picture.

However, if you have femophobia (fear of women), relax. The US has them under control. One-third of the women in jail all over the world are in US prisons.

The American soldier who, in the Iraq war, raped a 14 year old girl, then killed her and her parents, has at last explained why he did it.  As a result of his military training, he didn't "...think of Iraqis as humans." Of course not.

It's long been known that most soldiers don't like to kill. That's why it takes tens of thousands of shots for each kill. They deliberately miss targets, and often deliberately shoot to miss. The phenomenon has been noticeable since the invention of the musket; and it was studied by psychologists during and after World War Two. Their advice? During their training, imbue soldiers with a hatred of enemy; convince them that the enemy is not a real person as we are, make killing into something to enjoy. And the enemy was EVERY native of the country being invaded - young, old, anybody. They also advised that soldiers be trained to have contempt for women. Women were to be  used, then killed.

That has long since been built into military training - with a gratifying saving in ammunition as it now might take a few as twenty thousand shots per enemy killed, way down from the sixty thousand or so of wars in the first  half of the twentieth century.

Iraq. by the way, is no longer a nation. The army is ineffective and has been replaced largely by Shia fanatics  (that's the ones on our side) are carrying out extortion and slaughter of Sunnis and Christians.  Odd. You'd think the owners of the Irving Chapel would want to spread the news at least of the killing of Christians by "our side".

The New York Times, obviously unread by the Irving press, carried a dreadful story about the war on Saddam's Iraq. US troops discovered large stocks of chemical weapons that had been buried. No, these were not Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction". But you might wonder why George Bush didn't announce this at the time as proof of how evil Saddam was.

Well, it was awkward. The chemical weapons were American design, and were supplied to Iraq by the US when it was friends with Saddam, and using him to kill people in Iran. No. This had to be kept secret. Soldiers were assigned to dispose of it, and  some became very ill, indeed, as a result. But the American government denied them treatment, and they were forbidden to talk about it.

This had to be kept a secret. But if those soldiers were treated, the secret would get out. To this day, those soldiers  have received no treatment or compensation.

Get used to it. American foreign policy has caused wars within wars in the middle east as Saudi Arabia is in the coalition to fight terrorism - even as it finances it. Our good friend, Turkey is killing Kurds (the ones on our side) because they are a threat to Turkey. The US, which is attacking ISIS, was a major factor in creating it. In any case, the US doesn't care about Iraq or the Kurds. It's real purpose in this war is to cause the disintegration of Syria so that evil man, Assad won't be able to open trade with Russia.

For the next round of excitement, watch for Israel to take advantage of the crisis to get rid of the Palestinians, and to annex all their land.

Ukraine is a basket case. It's broke, and worse than broke. It depends on Russia for fossil fuel; but has never paid for it. It demands now to keep getting it, but only paying (maybe) for new supplies, not for the old ones.  The US agrees. (American oil companies have always been generous - just giving the stuff away.) The Ukraine has only one use now - to provide an excuse for a war with Russia.

And Canada has generously committed itself to war in the Middle East and war against Russia. Brilliant.

Oh, yeah. The world price of oil is heading for the toilet. The impact on existing operations in Canada will be serious, and possibly fatal. So much for the thousands of permanent jobs that were about to be created. So much for the pipelines. I never expected Gallant to oversee an honest moratorium. But now the shale gas might make an honest man of him by putting its plans on hold.

However, you won't find any of this in the Times and Transcript.
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Wednesday's paper has nothing much in section A. The editorial is about making money out of tourism. Have you noticed that the editorial is almost always about making money? In fact, the central purpose of government is to determine social needs, and then move from there to the financial end. Too bad our government doesn't understand what government is for. Isn't there anybody in the editorial room who does know?

de Adder is back in excellent form. Alec Bruce is not. His column this time is the sort of personal reminiscence we usually get from Brent Mazerolle. This time, Bruce's column, while very well written, indeed, is not an opinion column. It's just a little story.

Norbert has another puerile suggestion for improving democracy. He suggests that government daily get advice from the general public through a web site. He also claims that it was tried in Buenos Aires where it was a big success. (Actually, it wasn't ever used; but in the most recent election, 1,5% of the population voted for it.

Norbert, in a democracy when you elect a government, you elect it to govern. You don't elect it to tell it what to do. Nor does the vote have any validity when there is no number mentioned that should be required of public opinion for the government to do what it says. Thirdly, How can people vote intelligently when they depend on private media that lie, and distribute nothing but propaganda and trivia?

Wednesday's section A is , like all of the  Irving section As, heavy on court news, most of it trivial. But it's a cheap and easy way to fill space. The only interesting news story is on A1, "Community service in NBCC curriculum". It sounds interesting, but I can't tell if it's a good idea. Like almost all reporting by the Irving press, it's covered simply by quoting a spokesman. There's no research, no digging, to give us a very clear idea of what it''s to accomplish except, vaguely, offering credit for community service.

Alec Bruce is back in top form with a column, a real opinion column, on a federal daycare programme.As he points out, it really makes sense both for families and for our government budgets. Rod Allen calls one of his children Brat no. 2.  Ho, Ho......hum.

Jody Dallaire has an excellent column on the cost of sexism in the workplace and in the home. It's an opinion - which a column is supposed to be. And it's intelligent and well-argued - as not all columns are.

Both NewsToday sections are the  usual, shallow stories from a few news services, seemingly chosen at random to fill space. There is, amazingly no story about the crash of oil prices, and what effect that might have on Canada. There is no story about the UN warning that we have just 60 days to contain ebola. No story about the very dangerous position Ukraine is in. And no mention that almost all the ceasefire violations in that country have been committed by Kiev troops, and have killed mostly civilians.

This sort of gap is not just ignorant editing. It's damned lazy.

The business news YOU need to know is on the businss page "Moncton's Tide and Boar open new ballroom". And the Chamber of Commerce is having yet another gala in which the members give awards to each other.

Sorry to be late with this. It's been a busy day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oct. 14: Wow! A page and a half of people......

....picking apples. (Actually only one photo is of a person who is actually picking an apple.)  Also in the Monday edition, a big story that the Fundy lobster season is ready to start, and fishermen are hoping for good prices. Gee! Who would have guessed? And, in a world that is on the brink of the biggest war it has ever seen, the edition has not a single story about foreign news. In more exciting news, ace reporter Dale Hobson breaks the big news that a Pita Pit restaurant will be opening in  Riverview.- Page A1, and continued on P. A4.  (Paris will be so jealous.) I bet it took some real digging to get that story. But real digging is what ace reporter Dale Hobson was trained to do at journalism school.

The Monday edition has three and a half pages - AND an editorial - on volunteers in Moncton. In fact, there are stories about and photos of volunteers in just about every copy of the Irving press I have seen.It seems not to have occurred to anybody that there is something wrong with a society that leaves it up to volunteers to provide for basic needs - like food and shelter. All credit to the volunteers. But we should be ashamed of our ourselves for living in a society that does not care for basic, human needs.The Tuesday edition has two more stories on volunteers.

On the good side, volunteers keep taxes on the rich down.

For Tuesday, t he editorial writer must have wet his pants in excitement about the saving of Castle Manor. He writes, "Historic architecture is part of a community's culture and character." I don't even know what that means. What is the culture of Moncton? What is the character? How does it show itself in a pretentious but childish copy of a medieval castle with lots of windows? Does it show we are all pretentious and clumsy and have no taste?

For Tuesday, Norbert has his usual column attacking bureaucrats and technocrats. Actually, I don't get a sense that he knows what those words mean. He just uses them as swear words. The truth is that a modern society needs bureaucrats and technocrats. For an intelligent article on the subject - and why we're having problems in that area - go to www.cbc.ca/news/Canada new -brunswick/political-problems-plague-new-brunswick-s-public-service-1.2797638

It's written by Jeff Patch, a senior civil servant of some twenty years ago who says the politicians interfere with hiring to put incompetent friends into civil service jobs. It began with McKenna, and has gone wilder ever since. I guess Norbert doesn't listen to CBC.

The reality is we desperately need bureaucrats and technocrats - and we probably need more of them. But Norbert just loves to spit hatred and bigotry.

Alec Bruce has two, excellent columns.On Monday, he takes an informed look at the needs  of our education system. On Tuesday, He look at the federal government's self-congratulation on handling the economic crisis - but points out that our relatively easy time might have more to do with the structure and traditions of our financial institutions than with the government. But there's worse to come - and Harper is not prepared for it.

Ono Tuesday, Louise Gilbert offers a very useful column, well-written,   informed advice, and encouraging on adjusting to being a senior.

Alan Cochrane has a column on, God help us, volunteerism.
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Monday's NewsToday has NO foreign news at all. There is, however, an excellent story on B4 "Lax climate policy hasn't resulted in 'energy superpower status' for Canada"'  The story is that Harper (and his Liberal predecessors) deliberately sacrificed the environment - and are still doing so - in order to make Canada a superpower in oil production. And that has created crises and distrust at home and abroad - and may well be topped off with a decline of our oil industry.

Tuesday's NewsToday has a silly story that Canada will not make raids in Iraq that might kill civilians. Come off it. I don't think any war has ever been fought without killing civilians. (The story admits we may have killed some in Libya.)

It's B4 has a story that John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Lincoln, met in Montreal with Confederate agents just before the assassination. I have no idea why they printed it. In the first place, it really tells us nothing of any significance. In the second place, it's an old story that was first published shortly after the assassination.

D4 also has a story on the life of Billy Bishop, our first air ace in World War One. It is by no means the full story, leaving out all the  unsavoury parts of his character. When an NFB film told the whole story, there was a political storm led by furious veterans who demanded the film be destroyed (for what it said about Bishop, and for other reasons - like telling the truth that we took part in bombing raids that were deliberately aimed at civilians in WW2. The government (of Mulroney, I think) appointed a committee made up entirely of Conservative senators to study the complaints. That committee is mentioned in this story

I remember the committee well because I attended it in order to give testimony. The senators were a rare collection of dolts who were obviously there under orders to condemn the film. They knew nothing about the two world wars, nothing about the military. My greatest shock came when a senator asked me what a Lancaster bomber was.

Billy Bishop was, indeed, a fine fighter pilot. He was also a liar and a cheat who got caught in military college.He is strongly suspected of lying about some of his fears in the war. In the second world war, he held a very high rank at the marshal level. But he had no role in commanding the air force. He couldn't. He was a chronic drunk, useful only to appear in public in his uniform to boost morale.

For Tuesday, p.4 has as its big, business page story the tale of a woman who likes sewing leather, and has a small business selling leather products. So that's what the business world is all about.
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There were some stories the Irving press missed. Yes, it actually did.

There was the one I've already mentioned about Jeff Patch who took the lid off political interference in appointing civil servants.

Then there's Liberia and ebola. Now, Cuba is a poor country, largely because of US embargoes on Cuban trade. But Cuba has sent 120 doctors to fight ebola in Liberia. They have 120 doctors to spare because poor Cuba, unlike the rich United States and Canada, makes it possible for every citizens to have access to education to the highest levels. It also has a medicare system at least equal to Canada's, and one that leaves the US in the dark ages. So Cuba sent 120 doctors to fight ebola.

The US sent 7,000  - no, not doctors ----it sent soldiers. I guess they're going to shoot the germs.

Why on earth would the US send 7,000 soldiers? We have to guess. My guess is that Obama is taking advantage of the ebola crisis to establish an American military base in Liberia. He's all heart.

Then there was an interesting story in The Star (Toronto) on this Oct. 14 - and one that has a direct effect on New Brunswick. Perhaps the most corrupt and the most corrupting big business in the world is the pharmaceutical manufacturing business in the US. Certainly it is, according to most reports, the one that spends the most to buy politicians. That's why the US pays the full, retail price per pill even when it sends medical supplies as foreign aid.

Most developed countries keep prices for medicare down by requiring that the pharmaceutical companies compete in bidding to get prices down. But not Canada.

No, here in Canada (including New Brunswick) we pay a fixed price set by the provinces for medication. No competition. (Funny how capitalists always talk about the superiority of competition - but hate to engage in it themselves.)  The result is that New Brunswickers, like all Canadians, pay over twice as much as other developed countries for medications

Why do the provinces do such a crazy thing as to pay twice as much as necessary for a product? Gee - could it be they're paid off to do that? Nah....not our politicians.
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de Adder is an excellent cartoonist. Sometimes he is an excellent political cartoonist. What gets in his way is that his thinking about political affairs simply follows that of the crowd. Tuesday's cartoon is a picture of the the earth, with Africa facing the reader. The word at the bottom is contagion. On the cartoon is the word ebola pointing to Liberia. There is also the word ISIS pointing to the middle east.

In fact, the only political contagion in that whole region for the last century has been us of the western world who have murdered. pillaged, exploited every country, a job the US has taken up with a vengeance ever since 1945. That contagion is what created ISIS. And ISIS spread because the US and allies like Saudi Arabia supplied it with money, weapons, and training so it could kill for the US.

And they behead people? How cruel. The western powers would never to do that - not on video. They're Christian. They kill by bombing civilians, burning people to death, starving them to death, torturing. The largely Christian western world now represents the most dangerous and irresponsible killing force of our time.

So why, after we have starved hundreds of thousands, tortured thousands,killed millions, do we now express horror at Muslims who kill people by beheading? Because our private news media tell us about the horrors of beheading; and they tell us to hate Muslims because they kill people in such a terrible way. But they say nothing about the children we starved to death in Iraq, the civilians we murdered in Afghanistan, the millions we made into refugees, many of them to die deaths that are never reported.

So why do we believe our news media when they blame it all on Muslims? We believe it because we, all of us, have within us the seeds of bigotism, hatred, and racism. The private news media and their billionaire owners have learned to water those seeds, to bring them to full blossom. Racism has always been widespread in the western world. Hitler was no exception to the rule. He was a very typical example of the western world: and a devout Christian to boot.

All of this is why de Adder misses the point of what is going on, and so misses the greatest contagion of them all - us.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Our Selective Remembrance Day - and The Atlantic Charter of 1941

On November 11, we pause to remember those who died and those who were crippled either mentally or physically in battle. So we should. We sent them to risk death and crippling. The least we owe them is to remember how they suffered - and how we sent them to the suffering, and why.

The problem comes when we forget that we were the ones who sent them; and we are the ones who are sending them now and will send them in future. That forgetting happens when we get filled with propaganda that there was something glorious in what they did, something glorious in what we did in sending them -  that they died to preserve freedom and democracy.

Actually, Canada has never fought a war for freedom and democracy, and fought only one war to defend itself. That was in 1812 when the US invaded us. (Perhaps one could add the Fenian raids as well.)  Canadians died in the Boer War so that British millionaires could plunder the gold and diamonds and cheap labour of what became South Africa. World War One had nothing to do with democracy. Nor did Korea. When we went to South Korea, it was a dictatorship. And when we left, it was still a dictatorship. Afghanistan had nothing to do with us. It was not, as the US told us, complicit in 9/11. Though called Enduring Freedom, the war did not produce any freedom except of the most farcical sort. As well, it made it possible for the most corrupt government in the world (the present Afghan government) to re-establish its world dominance in the heroin trade. A hundred and fifty-eight Canadians - all sent by us through votes in parliament - died for that. There are no reliable figures on Afghan civilians who were killed. It's at least 20,000. We don't really know because that information comes from the same people who told us this was a war to save democracy.

As for World War Two,  The Atlantic Charter agreed to by Churchill and Roosevelt in 1941 was supposed to tell what we were fighting for.. Alas! Neither Churchill nor Roosevelt believed a word of what they said.

By the summer of 1941, we had lost World War Two. Churchill realized that, and later wrote of how he had thought of buying Hitler off with a piece of the British Empire. Hitler had recently invaded the USSR but, at the time, nobody expected the USSR to last more than six months. President Roosevelt of the US had his own concerns about the war in which his country was still a neutral; so he suggested that he and Churchill should meet. Churchill was ecstatic. This was something he had longed for all his life, a union of the world's English-speaking peoples to maintain the power of a Britain whose power had been slipping for seventy years. The two leaders met on an American warship in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. Out of that meeting came an official announcement of what the war was for.

It was, they said, to bring freedom to the world, ending empires, permitting each nation to determine its own government and its own future. And it was about free trade so that all barriers to trade would be removed.

Churchill didn't like either of those. He was, to his dying day, the man who said "I did not become the  King's first minister to preside over the dissolution of the British Empire."  The wealth of Britain (and the wealth of the very wealthy British) was based on the brutal exploitation of the people and resources of the British Empire - but-

Roosevelt insisted he needed that part about freedom to get the American people to extend wartime aid to Britain. He didn't say the other reason for it; but I'm sure Churchill guessed. He hoped to pick up much of the British Empire as Britain lost it..

At the time, and after, people who should have known better said that Roosevelt had been inspired by the democracy-loving President Wilson of World War One. In fact, though Wilson had talked a good game about freedom, he invaded and installed puppet dictators in Central America in almost every year he was president. Roosevelt had inherited an empire - and he had no intention freeing anybody. (Wilson also despised African Americans, and even extended racial segregation to include the civil service.)

As a result of the war, democracy was restored to countries that had already had it. But the puppet dictators remained with the American empire. As for the British Empire, and sadly for Churchill, the Empire crumbled in the years after the war as people kicked their British masters out. And when Britain made war on Egypt to try to get the Suez Canal back, a furious president Eisenhower publicly ordered the British out. He, like Roosevelt, wanted the US to add the British empire to  their own, not to rebuild it for Britain. (To this day, it's the US, not the Egyptian people that calls the shots for the Egyptian government. .

Then there was free trade.  British wealth depended on tariffs within the empire in order control trade so that the profits would go to the wealthy of Britain. But with the world in devastation after the war, the undevastated US would dominate world trade, creating vaster wealth for its already wealthy.

Churchill was hoping Roosevelt would use the charter to warn Japan against invading British colonies in Asia. But Roosevelt refused. He had his own plans for the future of Asia.

Even at that, Roosevelt agreed only to lend money and sell weapons to Britain. He had no interest in fighting Germany. What did interest him was Japan. It was almost certain to take the British, French and Dutch colonies in Asia, and even the great prize - China. Japan was the war he wanted to fight, to get control of the European empires in Asida. That's why he cut off oil supplies to Japan. He wanted a reaction that would give him a reason to declare war. He got more than he wanted with Pearl Harbour. But it did what he wanted, to give him a reason to declare war.  At that, he never did declare war on Germany at all. Germany, weeks later, declared war on the US.

World War Two was not about rights and freedoms. It was, like most wars, about money. After the war, Vietnam was the American attempt to steal the old French colony of Indo-China. The wars in the middle east and Africa have been to replace British and French dominance, and to cut off Russia and China  from developing trade. Remember. as you remember those who paid the price, that we sent them, - to Libya, to Afghanistan and now to Ukraine and Iraq and Syria.

The United Nations, the institution that was to bring us global freedom and social order, was inspired partly by the Atlantic Charter. But the major powers made sure that it could never carry out that role. They did it by giving veto power to themselves - United States, USSR, China, France, and Britain. Anyway, the UN has since been replaced as the judge and enforcer of the world with a power given (by God, apparently) to the US. It's called American exceptionalism. Our news media don't mention it much, if at all; but the concept as embraced by both parties in the US, is that the US can do whatever it likes, invade whoever it wants to, and never be held accountable.

There's more to come, much more, and soon. We have allowed capitalism to become something quite different from what it should be in a free and democratic society. We have allowed the growth of a capitalism that is independent of our social controls, and that operates on a greed that has, as greeds do, become  short-sighted, stupid to the point of madness, and utterly indifferent to those who suffer for the greed.

Remember, by all means, remember those who paid the price to satisfy a greed that can never be satisfied. But - and hear I speak especially to our various religious leaders - don't speak as if war were glorious or a defence of rights and freedoms. And next time you vote, hold to account those politicians who voted  to send more people to be remembered on another November 11.




Saturday, October 11, 2014

Oct. 11: rock bottom



The Friday and Saturday edition of the TandT for this week are the worst I have yet seen in that whole, wretched Irving press.

For Wednesday, the section A news is not just trivial; some is downright bizarre. On A2, there is a story that there's no need for an Ebola panic in NB. Okay. That's a reasonable story to report on. But the big picture to illustrate the story is of parking lot construction at the Dumont hospital. A photo, like a story, should tell us something. What the hell does this photo tell us about Ebola?

Below it is a story about roadwork in Moncton wrapping up. And there's a picture which shows even less that the one above it does, nothing but a couple of roadwork signs. What does that tell us?

By the way, the intrepid editors and reporters for the TandT don't seem to have heard of a suspected Ebola victim in Quebec (Temiskaming), even though the story is at least two days old. And all they had to do was to look at google.

Then, Friday has that silly (and large section) called A Better New Brunswick which features interviews with people telling us how to make this, well, a better New Brunswick. All of these features so far have been pretty silly and trivial. Today's  edition has an interview with a man who takes silly and trivial  to new depths with his opening headline statement, "People are province's biggest asset".  This gem comes from the mouth of a man, Brian Murphy, who had his time as MLA to make this a better province, and didn't do it. His statement reminds me of the Faith Page at its goopiest - all warm and cuddly, and quite meaningless.

Though Murhpy's "thoughts" are largely about economics, he does it without mentioning the phenomenal wage gap in this province - and without mentioning those people in this province who have the real power.

If I recall correctly, it was Brian Murphy, as education minister,  who refused to support a school principal who was under attack by parents for not playing 'O Canada" every morning. To Mr. Murphy and all those self-righteous, fist-shaking parents, it is NOT the job of the school to teach patriotism. It is the job of the school to teach thinking and understanding. And sometimes that makes one patriotic; and some times it doesn't. But in no case should the school be a propaganda centre. That's how Hitler used it. Do you stand up every morning and sing "O Canada" Mr. Murphy? If so, you should see tickets.

On the same page, there is also bad news. The Irving Chapel will close for the winter after Oct. 12. So you will have to find another church to worship the Irvings. Alas, the other church will be unlikely to have "special music".

For Friday, the editorial and op ed pages are much as usual.  The editorial and Norbert really have nothing to say.

Cole Hobson has a good topic in the problem of PTSD - though he doesn't do much with it. It's a very serious problem, indeed. And we inflict it on our military whenever we send them into action - and then Harper is notably slow to do anything about it.

Justin Ryan's column on foreign cooking seems light stuff- but it has a lot of truth to it. It's about how people of different parts of the world can come together through cooking. I developed a love for China in restaurants and homes and mealtime. I especially remember a restaurant called The Pepper Pot. On the first, few bites, my nose was running and there were tears in my eyes. And then we began the really hot part. It was heaven. Later, Chinese friends taught me how to boil lettuce without getting it wet - as a sort of balance to all the peppers.

There is also an excellent letter to the editor on a topic the paper never covers, "Better wages needed for working people".

Editorial and op eds for Friday are mostly the regular trivial trash. Norbert is deep into a series, telling us about books he has been reading which are intended to advanced students of the art and science of reading.
Norbert, you are writing for an audience of the most illiterate people in Canada. The books you are quoting are aimed at those who are not just literate, but highly literate. But what your audience needs encouragement to read at all. You might start by raising the point that we have the worst funded libraries in Canada.

The one column worth reading is Gwynne Dyer on Ebola. It's the most concise and the most informative column I have seen on the subject. And it's damned frightening.
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Both Friday and Saturday have very little world news - and most of the news they do have is trivial. "Cop who watched women have sex in jail not guilty". Alas, there is no photo. I was hoping for at least another picture of road repairs.

Friday's B6 has the news item I expected to see about now - that is, soon after the election. "Mike Wilson named chair of New Brunswick Business Council." But that's not the important part. Who could care less who the chairman of the business council is?

What's iimportant is his very arrogant attitude in saying he looks forward to working with the new Liberal government to bring prosperity to the province. Hey, Mr. Wilson. The people of New Brunswick didn't elect  you. And you have no special right to claim a role in government. This is a shadow, admittedly a pale one, of Mr. Irving's announcement at the start of Alward's government that he was a member of the government - without getting elected.

Mr.Wilson wants to bring prosperity to the province? Like hell he does. He wants to bring prosperity to big business and, the thinking of big business is to make the rest of the people bear the burden of bringing down the debt. He wants to make sure big business does not pay the cost for the damage it has done to our economy and our services.

New Brunswick, Canada, and the United States ARE prosperous. There's lots and lots of money. The problem for the last twenty years and more is that most of that prosperity is going into the pockets of the very rich who don't pay anywhere near the taxes they should, and who are now so liberated by deregulation and free trade they don't have to give a damn what we people or our governments think. Free trade has also made possible the near-destruction of unions and fair wages.

In addition, the "terrorist" scare has been used in Canada and the US (and other countries) to justify domestic spying on all of us. The government and big business are in bed together in this one, and information about us that has nothing to do with "terrorism" is routinely reported to big business - but not to us. Under Hitler, people who did that sort of spying were called Gestapo.
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I read the Faith Page; but now I can't find it.  It doesn't matter. It's just the usual pie sales in a region whose only places of worship are Christian (and Protestant), and whose perpetual sermonette is "Jesus wants you for a sunbeam."

Has it never occurred to these would-be John the Baptists that the moral code of big business is the opposite of any religion I have ever  heard of? All religions I know of emphasize our obligations to each other, are critical of greed and are opposed to killing.

Unregulated capitalism works on a moral code which exalts greed, recognizes no obligation except to the business, and kills people by the millions to get control of resources and markets.  Any thoughts from our clergy?

No. I thought not.
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As always, the Irving press has big gaps in its news.

Remember how its editorials have supported shale gas as our big hope for the future, and how the certainly of big profits and good jobs is worth the risk? That's probably why it hasn't told us that the world price of oil is dropping like a rock. Beware of impossible predictions and big promises. That advice would work, too, for the new hockey rink (also called civic centre).

Then there is the big, world conference about the World Health Organization. Well, the whole world except Canada. Harper has refused to go because it's being held in Moscow. Does Harper have higher ideals than all the rest of the leaders in this world? If so,shouldn't he criticize the US, Britain, France, etc. for their lack of moral standards?  Well, actually......

....Harper is doing this because Ukrainian Canadians hate Russians - and he wants that Ukrainian- Canadian vote to be all wrapped up for him just as the Zionist vote is.  This is the Harper we know too well - talk tough and do as little as possible. If the conference were going to be in Israel, he'd charter a couple of jets, and offer free trips to every Zionist in the country. And in Israel he would talk tough and do nothing - just like the last time. This time, again, he talks tough without actually doing anything.
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I'm sorry I had to waste so much space and time talking about nothing. But nothing is close to what these two editions were about. I really do want to talk about the Atlantic Charter (of 1941, and do it before Nov. 11). It can be quite a shocker to learn what they charter was really all about.

I think that one day soon, I'll do an extra blog just on the charter.

My sons are home from university for Thanksgiving Day. Did you know that children grow up? I shall have to adjust.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oct. 9: the news media and manipulation

Most news media don't tell the news. They create it. For example.......

In the Korean war, UN forces easily beat North Korea - China became very worried that they were looking to an invasion of China. (And the Chinese were right. The UN commander, Douglas MacArthur, had been making it clear, much to the anger of the American government, that he intended to invade China.) So, China ordered the UN troops not to go beyond a certain point. And MacArthur sent them beyond it.

What happened then was chaos and panic as China kept its word, and sent a massive force into North Korea. I knew Canadian soldiers who were there - and they didn't even try to fool anyone. They ran in panic. Everybody ran.  This was more than a retreat. This was a humiliating rout.

Until the news media got hold of it. Then it wasn't even a retreat. It was a strategic withdrawal. Never mind that a strategic withdrawal IS a retreat. And never mind that this one was not a response to orders; it was a panicky escape. The soothing, strategic withdrawal term even became a movie buzzword for a Hollywood film about the retreat, "Retreat, Hell!"

In the final scene, a frightened soldier uses the word retreat. And the hero says, "Retreat, Hell! This is a strategic withdrawal."

The success of that propaganda took us into a journalistic practice that became standard in the 1950s. All Korean war veterans in Canada were called "Korean War Heroes" even when the story had nothing to do with war, as in "Korean War Hero opens new restaurant in Moncton".

I found it odd because I could just remember how we were taught to laugh at Russia for calling all of its soldiers heroes all the time.

So -just a few weeks ago, the American and Canadian publics were completely opposed to any more war. Now, they're in favour. Why?

It was the news of ISIS beheading prisoners. This was evil, unheard of, contrary to all the rules of war. It was so evil, the people who do it must be evil by nature. It's genetic.  That's what the news media told us. And that appeal to our racism was what turned the trick. And it was deliberate.

The first reality is that nobody obeys any rules of war. Every war the US has fought since Korea has been illegal and full of war crimes, including the deliberate mass murder of civilians and the stunning reliance on torture, including torture of child soldiers (with Canadian complicity). If the world had a functioning world justice system, Harper could well be facing a death sentence for his involvement in Afghanistan.

We have been complicit (if only as a small player) in burning innocent people alive, killing civilians by the millions, destroying whole nations.

But beheading? No, us Christians cannot tolerate that. We, a racially superior people, do not have that evil influence in us. (So how come we're allied to a Saudi Arabia that is the world's most severe dictatorship, and a companion of the US and several other countries who financed and trained ISIS, - especially when the Saudis are probably the world champs in beheading?) But don't fret. Our news media will never tell us all this.

In fact, in the Thursday Irving press, B8 "Inaction on Syria frustrates coalition" there is a story about ISIS attacking a town on the Turkish border while the Turks "just watch the slaughter".

Well, yes. It is a slaughter. All wars are slaughter. Slaughter is what war is about - on both sides. But this story is from The Associated Press - and you have ever seen or heard any of our news services referring to an American slaughter as in, say, Vietnam or Iraq or Libya? No, because that's not the way our news media operate.

The reality is that for centuries, arabs and Africans in general have been slaughtered or impoverished by the tens of millions by Turkey, Britain, France, Belgium and now the US so that their resources can be plundered by western big business. Any traditional values have been destroyed. Most arab people have very little of their society left. And, yes, that produces pretty radical and hating people. But killing even more of them is not likely to change anything. We've been there, done that.

So where will this war take us? Almost certainly to its main target, the destruction of Syria - and very likely to World War Three which Obama has been promoting ever since American agents planned the overthrow of the government of Ukraine. In this, he will have the full support of Canadian and American churches, just as the Christian churches of Germany largely supported Hitler.
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B5 for Thursday at last has the story of a 100 car train blowing up in Saskatchewan after a derailment. Though only six cars exploded, they were carrying highly toxic petroleum distillates to - well - they don't tell us. It was sent by - they don't tell us. Was the smoke toxic? Yes. People had to be evacuated. Will it damage the environment and kill wildlife. Almost certainly; but the story doesn't say. Was it the old type of tank car that was responsible for the disaster of Lac Megantic - they don't tell us. All we know is that some twit of a local village reeve said he's sure the government is doing its best the regulate railway companies.

As a matter of fact, it's not doing a damn thing. And it, especially Transport Canada, got roasted just recently for neglect of the most obviously necessary regulation and maintenance.

Is it possible this train was coming our way - and from somebody we know? Could be. But the Irving press never asked. Nor did it ask whether this was a another 1 crewman train, or why the shipper chose this. Nor did it ask the big question - about how such shipments to New Brunswick are expected to multiply.

But, hey, let's look on the bright side. By cutting services, the federal government was able to reduce the national debt.
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B1 on Wednesday carried an excellent story from The Canadian Press on how the report of the Commissioner of the Environment tore one hell of a strip off Harper. She says that Harper has done nothing whatever to meet international commitments he has made to reduce greenhouse gasses - and there is now no hope we will reach our deadlines. (of course not. The oil industry doesn't want to reduce greenhouse gasses. And Harper knows who he serves.) She also said that despite Harper's big talk about Arctic development, preparations like ocean surveys are nowhere close to being ready - nor do we have the ships to do the work. She also came down heavily on his serious neglect of Transport Canada and the Department of Oceans and Fisheries.

This is worth a read. But to get the real fire in it, read Alec Bruce's column  on  the same topic on the editorial page of the Thursday paper. Bruce also has a good one in Wednesday's paper, this time on the economic downside of fracking.
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If what's happening in the world is too much for you, take a look at the editorials that deal with the real problems of life. Thursday takes a fearless look at garbage collection. Wednesday kissed the boss's ass with how good it is to have a small government   ( It's an article of faith in big business circles that the government that we elected should be too weak to protect us from big business.)

In fact, a government, a real government, needs a large and well-informed civil service and cabinet to be able to control big business (which,  yes, should be controlled. But big business wants to control everything - including us.)

Norbert continues his mindless series on reforming democracy. He speaks of change as coming from "the people". Rosa Parks, for example, he says began the breakthrough for civil rights in the US.  (She didn't Norbert. And African Americans still don't have full civil rights. All Rosa Parks won was the right to sit in a white section of the bus. To this day, American blacks get lower pay than whites - even when both have the same education. Their schools, to this day, are the worst funded. Their chances of getting shot by police are higher. He also refers, on Thursday, to the signing of Magna Carta as a result of a movement of citizens. Norbert, I would flunk you in a first year history course if  you wrote that on an exam. Read some history. Magna Carta was not the result of a movement of citizens.)  This whole series is pure bilge by a man who has no idea what he's talking about. But he shows skill in talking about how to reform our political system without once mentioning the big business that controls it.

Rod Allen tried to write a serious and useful column. He doesn't make it.

Beth Lyons has a useful column"YWCA Week Without violence is a global event with a local focus."
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Then there are all those things the paper doesn't tell us about, and never will. For example, how many wars are peace-loving Americans fighting right now? Or supporting with money and advice and training?

Well, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Ukraine (supplies and diplomatic support); drones in Pakistan, Niger, Djibouti, the Seychelles -and an unknown number of countries that have been attacked by special ops or undermined by American agents.

ISIS isn't attacking us. It's shooting back.

Then - a piece of news it might report. (It doesn't like the people on one side of misbehaviour. But it kisses up to the other side of misbehavers.)

My source here is rabble.ca - and this is a sad one.

Rabble.ca is a group of (mostly) retired journalists of the old school - honest, questioning, and ethically as straight as they come. I would trust their news more than that of any news medium I know.  They accuse two, top journalists of unethical behaviour. The two are Peter Mansbridge and Rex Murphy.

Apparently, both have lucrative contracts to perform "celebrity talks" for a wealthy organization. It's called the Oil Council of Canada. Sorry, boys. It's profoundly unethical for a journalist to be in such a conflict of interest situation.  The word is that CBC is investigating it. But, much as it hates CBC, don't expect a report of this in the Irving press. It hates CBC; but it just loves The Oil Council of Canada - which is equally responsible for its unethical behaviour. (Actually, that could be a tricky legal point. I'm not sure the oil industry has any ethics to be responsible for.)

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I have a note for another topic "The Atlantic Charter of 1841 and the betrayal of our veterans". But I think I'll save that for Nov. 11.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Oct. 7: Canadian values and prinicples - hypocrisy is number one.

It's Monday. I've been watching Harper and his crowd preaching to the House of Commons on TV. It reminded me of graduate school days.

One of my teachers was Arthur Lower, then the author of the standard text for Canadian history. It arose from his experience in World War One and then the increasing independence of Canada. So he called it Colony to Nation. Even as we took the course, though, most of us felt that we had ceased to be a colony of Britain only to become a colony of the United States - so we used to call his book Colony to Nation to Colony. It's now much worse.

In recent years, I have felt that Harper, if he got another term, would destroy Canada. Well,  he doesn't need another term. Everything is in place now to destroy Canada as a nation. One is our commitment to take part in the war in Iraq and Syria (Yes. Both of them.)  The other is the EU free trade deal. We know enough about both to expect editorial and op ed comment. But I haven't see any yet.

Instead, the editorial writers, as always, seem incapable of talking about anything but village affairs. The only person in that whole paper who has the wit to realize something important is happening is de Adder, the cartoonist. He has a cartoon of Harper, holding up his free trade deal while standing on the coat tails of slimeball Mulroney holding up his NAFTA free trade deal. This is important because it's very, very bad news for everybody except billionaires.

Now, I shall lay me down to sleep, and hope somebody finds some intelligent form of life at Irving press who can say something about it.
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It's Wednesday. Canada will be at war, and we will be under a destructive free trade deal - and there is no intelligent form of life at the Irving press.

There is one news story on the debate in the House of Commons in which Harper says we have to  defend Canadian rights and principles in Iraq and Syria.
1. This claims a right for us to impose Canadian rights and principles on all countries. So we join the American crusade which killed millions in trying to impose American rights and principles on Vietnam, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan - all at a dead loss - and all  at the price of creating chaotic conditions that have created a worse situation than there was before all these wars.
2. We're all gung-ho on upholding Canadian values? We weren't in 1981 when the CIA, the Guatemalan army. and Israeli special ops murdered 200,000 to 300,000 innocent Guatemalans, making no distinction in killing them all, men, women, and children.
Next time you're in Bouctouche to join the Lord at the Irving Chapel with special music and coffee in the barn, drop by the Catholic cemetery  to visit the grave of  Raoul Joseph Leger. He was killed in Guatemala by the CIA, the Guatemalan army, and Israel special ops. A New Brunswicker, Leger was a lay missionary who had devoted his life to helping the poor. He was murdered at the age of 30.
However, that didn't offend Canadian values and principles. Canada didn't lift a finger to ask for a report on why he died, or even to bring his body home. (That was done by the Quebec Foreign Missionary Society). The Irving press and other Canadian news media never bothered to mention Leger or anything that was going on in Guatemala. In fact, the Irving media were silent even when the NFB released a film about Leger's death, and even when the film appeared on Canadian and US TV.
3. I presume beheading is not a Canadian principle or value. Okay. So how come one of our major allies in this crusade is Saudi Arabia, the world leader in beheading, using it to execute those found guilty of even minor crimes? How come we're not bombing the Saudis?
4. It must be that mass murder of millions of innocent people, and the starvation of hundreds of thousands of children, and the torture of thousands of prisoners are not offensive to Canadian values and principles. If they were, we would long ago have bombed the US - with six jets for six months.
5. In fact, this war has nothing to do with ISIS. In fact, ISIS was created, armed, trained and paid for by the US and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It is meant to be the excuse for a war - a war to destroy what is left of the Iraqi nation and, more important, to destroy Syria.
6. The simplest, common sense should tell us that if this were really a war about the future security of the world, and a war that could last for many years, and is vital to our survival, then only a damn fool would commit six aircraft for six months. Check out the European Union commitments. Most of them are just as timid as Harper's.

That's because they all know that the beheadings are the American excuse for war. After the disasters of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, the American people are fed up with war. Obama needed something to get popular support for another war - or series of wars. ISIS is that something.
The governments of Canada and the European Union all know that, and they know where this war will take us. That's why most are making small commitments, with time limits. But it won't help them - or us.
7. What is this war about? It's about staking out the whole middle east as an American colony. It's about closing out Russia, China, possibly India from trade with it. It's about destroying Syria and killing Assad because Assad encourages Russian trade. The war will almost certainly come to include Iran for the same reason. As a bonus for Israel, it will so weaken the Arab states as to allow Israel to take over all of Palestine and, perhaps, a part of Lebanon.
American oil ownership will be safe with American oil companies paying the lowest possible price for the oil they take.

Or - the Middle East will collapse into permanent chaos - and Russia and China will feel they have to step in to prevent an American takeover of the whole region.
This war is being fought for one reason, and one reason only - because the oil industry wants it, and the oil industry owns the US government and the media. So watch for an orgy of hatred from the news media. Oh, and be sure not to miss the Nov. 11 speeches about how Canadians are risking their lives to preserve democracy   in the Middle East.

Enjoy.
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de Adder's cartoon of Monday had free trade Harper standing on free trade Mulroney's coat tails. Quite so - but worse.

Free trade has done nothing for most of us in Canada and the US -and nothing for poor countries, either. Mulroney spent his whole life as a lickspittle for the very rich. He didn't introduce free trade to help anybody except his very rich friends. (Mila, born rich, played her role as an aristocratic wife - holding lavish dinner parties for the rich to raise money for the poor so Mila could get her name in the news, and hear compliments about the stunningly expensive clothes and jewelry she had bought just for this occasion - and, of  course, to accept praise for her generous commitment to help the poor.)

Free trade so far has done what it was designed to do. It has allowed big business to close North American factories where greedy workers expected to be paid enough to live on for their work -and move to poor countries with no requirement that they pay decent salaries or give a damn about what they pollute.

Free trade is what made Detroit into a wasteland and a battle zone. And it is not a coincidence that the growth of the wage gap between the very, very rich and the rest of us began with free trade. In fact, around the world, the wage gap is now greater than it has been since 1870. (Some authorities say it's the worst since 1820).

Watch for Harper's new trade deal to make it worse because it is almost certain to include new penalties - for us. The trend is for free trade deals to allow companies to evade environmental rules - and to sue countries that impose such rules after the deal is signed - even if the rules are necessary to save human lives.
In the case of Canada, Harper has been quietly removing such rules since he came to office. So we start from a weak position.

To make it weaker, the new trend for such law suits is to send then- not to those fussy, old fashioned courts. No. The new trend is to send cases to a court appointed and paid by the company for hearings held in secret.. And there is no appeal to real courts.

Such free trade deals mean a permanent lowering of incomes for us which is combined with increased opportunity for the very rich to hide their money from taxation. That, of course, means we need to cut government services to balance the budget. (The very rich want to cut them anyway because they think everything should be for private profit.)

The world is changing very, very quickly. The age of democracy is close to being history. Free trade, deregulation, and sheer corruption have taken care of that. And, while it is more obvious in New Brunswick than in other places, the world is increasingly governed by an aristocracy of wealth. We don't control our fates any more. That's why the state requires news media owned by the wealthy to propagandize us. That's why most advanced countries now have secret, domestic police to spy on us and keep us in line.

Of course, the various aristocracies will sometimes confront each other, with each determined to get even more power. That's why we're having tensions with Russia and China. And those aristocracies too small to afford such confrontations will line up under the orders of a big aristocracy - which is what Canada and the European Union are doing for Obama.
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As for the Irving press for Monday and Tuesday - well, it's the Irving press. The local news is trivial. The little bit of foreign news comes from the usual sources - The Canadian Press, The Associated Press,----  It has to because most newspapers can't afford to maintain foreign correspondents. The trouble is the sources the Irving Press buys these stories from are owned  by the same sort of propagandizers who own the rest of the news media in North America.

There are other sources to get news and opinion from, sources like El Haaretz in Israel, Al Jazeera (far better than it gets credit for), The Guardian (Britain)... But I guess our editors don't read them. To make it worse, they don't seem to know much about foreign affairs because the stories they use seem to be picked out at random. And much of the opinion we get from other sources seems to come from propaganda "think tanks". The only good ones we get are ones that seem to be coming less frequently - like David Suzuki and Gwynne Dyer.

Among regulars, Alec Bruce is, as usual, worth reading. Steve Malloy is good with, I suspect, a lot more potential.

As for Norbert, once you've looked his moustache, there's nothing else of substance in his columns.

Tuesday's editorial is the best (and only good one) I have ever seen in the TandT. It's an editorial of praise for Dr. Cleary, our chief medical officer, who has voluntarily gone to Africa to help with the struggle against ebola. The editorial praises her courage and her commitment. And rightly so.

To bad they smothered and derided her report on shale gas.