Saturday, January 31, 2015

Jan. 31: two very, very bad, really awful, terrible days.....

The Toronto Sun is a newspaper designed to attract morons, bigots and louts. And it does very well in the Toronto region where all three groups are plentiful.  Its columnists write to  appeal to hatred and ignorance. Above all, they write to attract attention to themselves because they, like the women in bikinis who appear in every issue are there for only one reason - to sell newspapers. Only fools read Sun columnists.

Now check the headline in the Times and Transcript for January 30. It seems a columnist for the Toronto Sun has said that women's soccer is not a real sport because, if it were, it wouldn't be having its world championship in Moncton. This is just  childish. Nyah, Nyah. And the Moncton mayor responded- Nyah, Nhay. Then, worse, the Moncton Times made it their front page, banner headline story written by Brent Mazerolle himself with a full colour photo. And it's more childish than the original story in The Sun.

So, when does the Irving press start featuring a daily beauty in a bikini?

The editorial would get a laugh even at The Toronto Sun. It's theme is that the premier's speech on his plans for New Brunswick was inspiring - even though it said nothing. Right.

Norbert does his usual silly bit about how more efficient woodstoves would not add to climate change and how the Doomsday Clock warning that we are close to nuclear war are invented concerns. In short, climate change isn't happening, and there will never be a nuclear war. In fact, at the bottom of his fourth column, he says that scientists who developed the idea of the Doomsday Clock are the same ones who invented climate change just so they could scare people.

Norbert, that is so silly, so ignorant, so illogical you really should be writing for The Sun. (or maybe posing in a bikini). For example, the Chicago scientists who invented the Doomsday Clock were most of them dead by the time climate change became an issue. And if you have some evidence that the same people were behind both concerns, I should be fascinated to see it.

However, your column should have a bigger audience so that morons, bigots and louts can be reassured that there is no climate change, and nuclear weapons don't exist.

I really don't understand how Justin Ryan can say so little in his columns. It's supposed to be about immigrants who settle in Moncton. But it tell us almost nothing. For example, there's a one-liner that Canadian schools teach different subjects, and Canadian teachers have different expectations from those in their homelands. That's intriguing. But it tells us nothing. How are they different? How does that affect the students?

In general, here are two pages where we should see serious discussion of Gallant's plans, and of the state of the economy. But we don't get either.

Why are we in economic trouble? Let's get past this childish babble about how we're spoiling ourselves with social services. Certainly, we should talk about our spending. But that talk is meaningless unless you also talk about our revenues. ALL of our revenues. And let's take a little look at the history of this.

In the Second World War, the Canadian government took full control of the Canadian economy. And it worked well. There was little inflation. Fundamental needs were protected for all of us. And much of that government control remained into the 50s and 60s. It was a time when Canadians, perhaps for the first time ever, could look forward to the economic future. Then we got the Ronald Reagan-Brian Mulroney-Margaret Thatcher revolutions.

Governments pretty much gave up on running the economy. The absurd theory that if you make the rich richer, we will all get richer took over. Control on big business were eased, in fact, largely dropped. Free trade gave big business the opportunity to abandon any responsibility to any people of any nation.  And guess what?

From that time, the rich kept getting richer while the poor got poorer. That's the period in which the rich awarded themselves lavish salaries while steadily paying less in salaries and less in taxes. That's when we started hearing about a wage gap.

That was also the time of the spread of 'think tanks' to spread the propaganda of the rich. It was the time of the consolidation of almost all news media in the hands of a few billionaires. It was a time of the acceleration of  bribery by the rich to get control of government. By now, it is so blatant that no serious scholar considers the US, for example, to be a democracy. (Or New Brunswick).

Nor does it ever stop. There is never a time when the very rich have enough. There will never be a time when we are told that 90% of us have too little.

That is what lies behind American military activity. (In fact, American military activity, like British, French, German, etc. has always been based on serving the interests of the rich.)

This greed is why all nations over the centuries have looked to religion to set limits on the greed - and on suffering and violence it creates.  That's why our Faith Page now lists pancake breakfasts rather than discussion of the morality of those people who control our lives. And, more significantly, that's why we get the book Over the Cliff? which suggest solutions that are not solutions but the cause of the problem in the first place.

Typically, what we hear are the solutions the rich want to hear. But the reason we are in trouble is that we have been supporting the very rich in the style they like. We support the rich by lowering their taxes.  (And, please, don't tell me the solution is simply to raise their taxes. The reality is that most of their money is hidden safely away from the tax collector.) The next edition of Over the Cliff? could do well to take a look at how much our corporate wealthy cost us - because that's where the solution is.

Reagan, Mulroney, Thatcher and fellow-travellers led a revolution. And we are not paying the price for it.

And that is why the whole, strategic face of the world is changing as the majority of people around the world are framing new alliances to stop us. But the US and its allies cannot fight so many people with just conventional weapons. They will have to use nuclear weapons.

And that, dear Norbert, is why you might want to start worrying.
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The Jan 31 paper doesn't reach the high standards set by Jan.30.

Most disturbing was a story on A7, "J.D.Irving, Limited Reading is Wild Readers of the Week".
My first thought was for the ego of a man who must have his name on everything. But there's a bigger problem here.

We are a society, Mr. Irving, not a herd of cattle. We, as a society, should be deciding how much money our schools should get, and what it should be for. Sponsoring a reading event sounds very nice. But the effect of it is to give people like you another toehold on our schools. And you, with your buddies at AIMS,  have been making it clear that people like you should be running the schools - preferably for profit.

Money does not give you the right to do that. In a democracy, you have the same right as the rest of us in these matters - the right of one vote. May I suggest, then, you skip the philanthropist crap and, if you really want to help, pay decent taxes like the rest of us have to.

Bill Belliveau and Norbert once again wet their pants over Gallant's brilliant speech that said nothing. The rest of the editorial and op ed pages is pretty feeble stuff, with even Gwynne Dyer being pretty vague.
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In NewsToday, there's a bizarre story about our troops engaged in fighting in Iraq. The chief of defence staff supports the government position that we are not in a war, that our military people are simply defending themselves. Well, don't blame him. He has to follow the government line. But be patient, and read the whole story. It's a pretty good outline of what is happening. And Harper has cancelled one of the fundamental rights of a free country.

Can we at least hope for some informed speculation on why Harper has gone to war while saying he isn't?
I hadn't seen any - but here are some suggestions.
1. There are no votes to be won by declaring war - and the election is nigh.
2.Neither he nor Canada stands to gain anything from this war and, despite his frequently tough talk, Harper has been generally leery of war.  And the only beneficiaries of the current war will be American oil billionaires. Their greed was behind the first Iraq war which is what eventually sent recruits to 'extremist' Islamic groups. The whole crisis is not a war between Islam and Chritianity. It's a war between the greed of American capitalism and  just about everybody else.
Harper has no quarrel with greed. But he's reluctant to get involved unless there is a gain for Canadian capitalists.

Again, there is almost no foreign news. The biggest story, B6, is that Mitt Romney is not going to run for president. (Two stories, actually). Who could possibly care?

The most frightening story is on B3 "CSIS to get more anti-terror powers". Our spy agency will be getting the power to arbitrarily detain suspected terrorists, or "might be" terrorists, The RCMP will have the power to remove terrorist sites from the web. Sounds reasonable? Well, apart from dumping "innocent until proven guilty", there's another question. What is a terrorist? Is a shale gas protestor a terrorist? (Yes. They are already listed as such.) Is anybody who opposes Harper a terrorist? Quite possibly so. Under our milder laws, Tommy Douglas. the Baptist clergman who introduced medicare was under survellance as a danger to Canada.

Has Mr. Irving been under surveillance by CSIS? I doubt it. It's more likely that he reports to it.

The Faith Page, C6, has a long list of church activities, all of them designed to reduce the brain to putty. The sermonette is worse.
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Generally, the most worrying thing is we are getting very, very limited information about the extent to which the world is turning away from us, and forming new trade groups and alliances to get away from the greed of western capitalism. There are now so many against us that they cannot be fought with conventional weapons. (For that matter, the US record of fighting small and poor nations with conventional weapons has not been brilliant.) And, in the alliances on the other side, there are lots of nuclear weapons. Even if the US could stop every one of them with rockets, the accumulation of nuclear explosions would be the final disaster.

Think about it. Or just read Norbert again. And yawn.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Jan.29: Did you know that it snowed in New Brunswick on Tuesday.?

I sort of suspected it might be snowing when I looked out the window that day. But you know, it could have been just a big wedding with lots of confetti. Or possibly a celebration of Mr. Irving being named to another hall of fame for philan---philiant....you know...

But Wednesday's front page headline broke the real story. "Metro Blasted By Snow". So there.

Moving right along, A3 had a photo that looked familiar, a photo of firemen looking at a fire. Sure enough. it was almost identical to a photo that appeared Tuesday of the same fire, but this time with more firemen looking at it. The second story was briefer, though. It just said that the fire wasn't suspicious.

A6 has a really big, suitable for hanging photo of premier Gallant. It accompanies a half-page story that he's going to give a speech on the economy. The story said that he said what he was going to stay in his speech.

And, in this province in which we are all, rich and poor, equal, tickets to hear him in Fredericton went up to $235.  Or there were tables at which you could sit to watch him on a big screen at the Casino for only $825 a table. (That information just about two paragraphs above where the premier is quoted about his concern for "...helping families that are struggling across the province.")

This, of course, will be reassuring for struggling Monctonians with $825 to share a table.

If there is anything worth reading on the editorial or op ed pages for Wednesday, please let me know.
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In Thursday's A section the pace picks up. "Gallant talks tough in address". Wow! Wednesday's story was right. Gallant did give a speech. And A9 has more of the speech (and another photo in case you've forgotten what he looked like.). And he did talk tough and right to the point when he said things like, 'We need to believe in ourselves.' And we can be sure that he did talk tough because he said, "we need to be tough."
Way to lay it on the line, baby.

Alec Bruce has an excellent column on early childhood education.

Norbert has a column praising the New Brunswick Health Council, a group that, essentially, represents the interests of the rich (sorry - entrepreneurs and their expensive families.) It's his usual line that governments, civil servants, doctors are congenitally stupid. But rich people (sorry, entrepreneurs) know everything about everything - and that must be in the genes, too, because it runs in families.  (Get off your knees, Norbert. the next one has a rear end that's really high.)

Rod Allen is back to writing pointless columns that dazzle us with how very, very clever he is. Beth Lyons is more useful with a 'good news' column about the improving status of women.
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To turn to NewsToday for both days,Wednesdays' B1 has a photo of Auschwhitz death camp with the headline, "Jewish leader warns that Jews are again being demonized". That's not quite facing reality.

Certainly, the old, anti-semitism is still there. It never completely left. That's true in Canada, the US, and very true in much of Europe. But the most recent rise in hostility does not come from the old anti-semites. It comes from the behaviour of Israel.  Many, many Jews in Europe, the US, Canada and in Israel, itself, are furious about racism, bullying, and aggression by the state of Israel. They have a movement called Peace Now which includes large numbers of Zionists (people who support the idea of a Jewish homeland in Israel).

The Israeli government supports powerful lobbies throughout the western world to make sure that only the official Israeli view gets known. Jews who oppose it often find themselves isolated. Jewish organizations have been infiltrated to put out a consistent 'Israel is always right' message. Politicians like Harper support all this because there  are votes in supporting it. As one result, Canadian can curse, denigrate, badmouth native peoples all they like. English and French in Quebec can happily discriminate against each other. Chinese, Japanese, Blacks are pretty much fair game. But criticize Israel, and you could be in legal trouble.

Read the story on Wednesday B1 about this anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945. Notice that it says almost nothing about the camp. (There was an excellent story about a survivor that appeared in the Irving press a few days ago.)  But Wednesday's story is all about hatreds - of Muslims, Russians...

In a touch of irony it tells of a survivor who was in tears as he pleaded with world leaders to fight for tolerance. But that was one sentence. The rest of the story was about who we should hate.

Do you think that the Irving press would have the courage (or even the intelligence) to write a headline "Palesitnians are being demonized by Jews"?

In the same issue, there is a story on B4. The B1 story made a big issue of Putin not being at Auschwitz. In fact, Obama wasn't there, either. We find him on B4 paying respect for deceased King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the world's champion beheader and denier of human rights, the man who supplied the Syrian "rebels" and ISIL with money.

But Obama says it's best to deal with issues like human right by being nice and talking to people. Yes. But sometimes, of course, you can't talk. You have to kill a million or so. They've been talking to the kings of Saudi Arabia for almost a hundred years with no results. I'm so happy to see Obama is still being patient, and talking.

Funny, though. When Cuba kicked out its dictator, it didn't take away human rights. (There were no such rights to take away - and the US certainly never asked the dictator to restore them.) Indeed, Cuba gave its people rights Americans didn't have yet - free education all the way to university, medicare, basic income help.... And the US didn't talk. It sponsored an invasions, terrorist attacks (no. they couldn't have. Only Muslims do that.) and they imposed an (illegal) trade embargo that kept Cuba poor.

B6 has a great story "Obama says laws must ensure drones are safe and don't violate privacy." And I'm sure he's for real.  But the US violates privacy of its citizens more than any country in history, and part of it is the use of drones. As for safety, drones are used daily to murder people, including civilians, in other countries.

Any thoughts, Rod? Hump?

B5 has a brief story about Ukraine, told entirely from the point of view of the Kyiv government. This story is one that actually should be a prominent one - that tells us something. The US seems to be moving troops in on the ground (as advisors, of course). It is also building up its forces in the region. Only a fool could fail to realize that the US wants a war with Russia. And the government of Ukraine wants the US - and Europe and us in a war with Russia. We already have military units there.

The US is doing it to protect Ukraine from Russia? Get real. No major country goes to war for any reason but to satisfy the wishes of its leaders. The leaders who determine American foreign policy are greedy capitalists (sorry, highly motivated entrepreneurs - and philanthropists). Ideally, they would like Putin to back off and give them whatever they want. That is not likely to happen. What is more likely is the forming of a huge coalition to put an end to centuries of western dictation. And that could well decide "our" leaders to go for a war that would almost certainly become nuclear.
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NewsToday is even feebler in the Thursday edition.

My eye was caught by a story on B3 about how angry Afghanistan veterans are that medical help promised to them has not only been ignored by the Harper government, but it has spent $700,000 fighting the veterans in court. That's odd. Veterans have a record of voting Conservative, and nobody pays attention to voting blocs the way Harper does. So why is he ignoring and even harrassing the veterans?

Because there aren't enough of them to matter in an election. It's as simple as that. Harper is crafty. But he's also obvious. We owe it to the veterans to remember that on election day.

B3 has a small story that should be a big one. 'Scientists say "loopy" jet stream behind recent weird weather". Apparently, warmer weather is turning our prairie provinces into dry, brushland. The same jet stream is  turning Texaas cold. (There wasn't room for those last sentence in the story. I got them from other sources.)

So, climate change is happening, climate changes which mean, at the least, enormous changes in national economies, huge shifts in population, mass starvation.......  Any comment from our columnists? Any entrepreneurs or other "community leaders" working on answers?

Any chance of the Irving press giving rather more attention to these changes? Any idea what's causing these changes? And don't waste time and effort questioning those stupid scientists and bureaucrats. Go to an expert who can solve any problem.  Ask Mr. Irving.

There are also stories about 'extremists' and 'terrorists'. Exactly what do those words mean? Is someone who makes billions of dollars out of making millions of people poor an extremist? Is someone who terrorizes a whole society a terrorist? Let's see, our side killed. tortured, starved, drone-bombed millions of people just since the start of this young century. We've killed or impoverished millions in the Congo, Guatemala, in fact, in a good deal of Africa and Latin America. We've supported Saudi Arabia with its worst record in human rights in the world.

But no, that's not extremism or terrorism. That's just good entrepeneurship. And the Kings of Saudi Arabia have not been murderous or cruel - well, except for dealing with witches and and women who drive cars.. (Indeed, Saudi kings are almost the only Muslims who have not been extremists and terrorists. So it must be genetics that make Saudis a superior race, almost like us Christians.)

But our news media routinely use the words extremist and terrorist - and we all know what they mean by them. And that's very good propaganda.

B3 also has a story about how our spy agency spies on all of us. Don't worry, though. Our government would never allow it to intrude on our privacy. They only look at terrorist stuff. (It is worrying,  though, that there must be millions of terrorists in Canada. How else to explain the huge list of files downloaded?)

And what is a terrorist? Well, it depends - but our government isn't telling us that, either. However, we do know that our spies report to a council of business leaders twice a  year. That makes sense because business leaders know more about foreign affairs and terrorism than bureaucrats do. And it's very good of the business leaders to take off time to deal with these problems.

Oh, a special target is the smartphone. Canada is a world leader in spying on smartphones. I guess a smartphone is a sure giveaway that you're a extremist terrorist.

None of the above information comes from our government. It comes from a whistleblower. Of course, it's hard to trust whistleblowers because so many end up in jail. How unlike, how very unlike our business leaders.

The reality is that we live in a police state. That's not calling names like extremist and terrorist. It is actually what police state means.

Oh, on B4, France wants Canada to be on the UN Security Council, a position held for many years by Canada in the days when the world took us seriously. We were defeated in our last try because we're so obviously toadies to the US government. To make it worse, nobody with any knowledge of foreign affairs takes Harper seriously.  Add to that the fact that world alliance changes are happening very, very quickly.
And we aren't.







Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jan. 28: How we got here..

News media rarely tell us why things happen. When they reported on the Paris shootings, the stories began with the shootings. They covered a few days. That was it. The result was shock, sorrow, anger (and, on some sides, glee) from people who had not the faintest understanding of why it happened. Nor do the news media have enough knowledgeable people - or time - to explain why it happened. In fact, commentators and op ed writers frequently gain popularity by simply expressing the uninformed public outrage - and so making things worse.

As a result, the whole world is now in a crisis which has been building for centuries.

At one time, we had a world of quite distinct civilizations characterized by distinct religions, customs, governing structures - all those things we, rather glibly, call cultures. Western Europe developed as a Christian civilization, ruled by an aristocracy of birth and, several centuries ago, began developing an economic system called capitalism - which was quite disconnected from any religion.

China was quite different. Its government system was based on the writing of Confucius. Even the civil service was based on Confuciansim. Every year, candidates for the civil service wrote exams to qualify for their work - and the exams were tests of their understanding of Confucius.

There was nothing that could be called an industrial sector. Most people lived by farming or fishing or crafts. As a result, there was a strong sense of permanence and community in their lives.  And it was pretty successful. That system lasted for some 3000 years of generally effective government.

There were civilization in the Americas, some with cities and massive architecture, some agricultural with social and political institutions quite comparable to those of Europe. (The Iroquois tribes were developing a form of United Nation centuries before Europe even thought of it - And they had a status of women that was far higher than that in Europe.)  Others lived by hunting - an economy that forced them to be highly mobile. Together, they developed technologies that became essential to European survival - the toboggan, snowshoes, birchbark canoes. They also taught European immigrants how to farm in the Americas.

All over the world there were human societies with methods of government, social customs, religious beliefs, communities.....  But from 1500 on, that changed, a change that happened with the development of the ocean-crossing ship by Europeans.

Among the first to feel the shock of that were the native peoples of the Americas. When they were in the way of the Europeans, they were simply killed. More would be moved, often to areas to which they could not adapt their former economies And there was social and religious disintegration as communities were destroyed. Everything that they had been and had lived was under attack. All over the Americas, including Canada, they were murdered by gunfire or starvation to exterminate them. The peak of it was reached with government programmes to build residential schools which would create western Europeans out of native children by removing them from the familiarity of family and community.

Nothing has changed, really. Canada does not recognize native peoples as equal members of Canadians society. Nor have native people recovered from the shock that began centuries ago.

Some native people in the Americas were made slaves.But it didn't work well. It was too easy for them to escape into the wilderness  and, anyway, they didn't live long as slaves -  usually just to their early twenties.

But ocean shipping came to the rescue with African slaves. There had to be a lot of them because so many millions of them died on the way. They were sold all over Europe, Canada, the US, and Latin America. In fact, the US economy was dependent on slavery until close to 1860 and the civil war.

Again the pattern was brutal treatment, destruction of communities, customs, religions and families - and short lives It was degradation, humiliation, hopelessness. The slaves were freed in the US after 1865. But there still has been no recovery of what was lost.

China got hit, mostly by the British, in the early 1800s. As with slavery, the force that motivated the British was capitalism. There was money to be taken from China, foods, resources, cheap labour.......And all they had to do was to destroy the society first.

So the very efficient Chinese civil service was destroyed. Whole communities and even families were split up to be moved to factory farms. That meant the destruction of communities, a central and stabilizing factor in Chinese life. The specialization of factory farming made it vulnerable to fluctuations in the market, in the weather - and what might and did happen then was regional starvation with masses of dead that nobody bothered to count.

In India, one of the special crops was opium. A treaty forced on China by he British required China to buy huge quantities of opium every year. If it fell short in sales, it had to pay British capitalists millions of dollars in compensation. One result was something like a hundred million opium addicts whose lives became simply opium. But if you read British fiction, like Sherlock Holmes, the addiction is always seen as the result of Chinese weakness.

The last European conquests hit the Africa and the middle east, notably Egypt, Congo, South Africa. All involved mass slaughter (especially Congo). All involved savage attacks on regional government, customs, social values, religion.....in short, the effective destruction of whole societies.

In every case, those wars were fought to benefit the European wealthy. No other reason.  On the European side, the wars were fought by European soldiers who were held in contempt as the scum of the earth by the rich, and so paid almost nothing, and subject to extraordinary brutality and living conditions. In fact, the European working class got little - if anything - out of the whole experience.

By 1900, even earlier, US capitalists were getting into the empire game in a big way. The US itself, of course, was an empire built on murdering and displacing its native peoples. Again, it was an empire solely for the purpose of making some very rich people richer. By the turn of the century, it was moving in on The Phillipines as a starting point for control of the China trade. Like the other empires, it destroyed with mass murder and torture. (US troops seem to have developed the torture of "waterboarding" in the Phillippines War.)

At the same time, it moved in on Latin America, destroying societies, creating disorder, fear, and disorientation to get cheap labour and cheap land in order to loot resources and to build factory farms for the Dole's.

Rudyard Kipling, beloved poet of the British Empire, cheered the US for "taking up the white man's burden". Like most os us westerners, he saw this murder and brutalizing and pillaging as a part of our responsibility to spread civilization. It was really, of course, a mass destruction of existing civilizations.

(Kipling also realized that Europe wasn't strong enough to hold such empires by itself. Thus his enthusiasm for the US entry into the "great game".)

By the first world war, most of the world lived in fear, hardship, largely bereft of social institutions or a sense of security in community. There seemed a hope during World War One when leaders in Europe and the US said the war was being fought to bring freedom to the world. They were lying of course - all of them, just as they would also lie in World War 2.


This is the peiod when frantic colonies looked for some way to end the horror they live in. Some looked to their traditional religions. Some looked to communism. China, Cuba, Vietnam and a few others chose communism - but none of them actually followed it. Some looked to traditional religions, like Islam. All were desperate. Luckily for them, Europe had punched itself out in two world wars -and the US was not quite up to replacing Europe.

And where were the Christian churches in all this? Having pancake breakfasts and writing simple-minded sermonettes.

And where were our news media? Well, most were - and are - owned by wealthy families who support imperialism and destroying other societies for profit. So most of them feed us propaganda.

And that's why our news media say so little about Congo children working in the mines at age five - and nothing at all about the US killing people, mostly civilians, by the millions. And that's also why they rant about the evil of some terrible men who shot 12 cartoonists for drawing hate cartoons.

But words like good and evil have no real meaning in the scale of what we humans are doing. Us humans aren't good. And we aren't evil. We're just humans. And we're humans who have to deal with the relentless greed of centuries

But there is one difference. Our side has obliterated whole civilizations, whole societies. The other side has had to struggle to find a way to survive. Our side has also destroyed its own civilization. But we haven't noticed.

That's too bad. Because our side is the only one with the capacity to begin a healing process.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jan. 26: This is why the next post will NOT be about the Irving press........

really, what can one say about a paper whose Monday. A1 headline, is about a man reported to having been seen with gun in a residential area (featuring a photo of two police with rifles looking for him) -  and  Tuesday's big story on B3 is the same story with the same photo. Talk about saving money!


Back to Monday on A3 for a piece of propaganda disguised as news. "Metro Moncton boasts savvy entrepreneurs."  In this case, the word "entrepreneur" like the word "terrorist" is a loaded one, except that that images for "entrepreneur" are warm and fuzzy. "Boasts" is another loaded word. And in any conversation I have heard in this city, I have never heard anyone boasting about our entrepreneurs - except for the Irving press and a few entrepreneurs.

And they're "savvy"? Another loaded word. And, since I know no test for entrepreneurial savviness, this can only be an opinion - not a fact for the news.

As well, I have never seen a story in this newspaper critical of "entrepreneurs". With such perfection, this must be the New Jerusalem. And this is no small point. It's one more sample of how this newspaper is deliberately used as propaganda.

On the editorial page, Alec Bruce and Norbert Cunningham both discuss the problems of the provincial economy without once mentioning the source of those problems. The only possible conclusion, then, is that our problems are caused by the sick, the poor and children.

On the good side, French-haters will enjoy a letter to the editor "We're empowered to pay but not save." It's about how those awful Acadians get jobs just because they're bilingual.I know just how the writer feels. I could have been a basketball star, and now be retired as a multi-millionaire. But they wouldn't let me because I was too short. It's not fair.

Similarly, the foreign news (anything more than a hundred metres from the newspaper office is foreign news), is full of loaded words and assumptions.

There are stories about 'terrorists' and 'extremists' and 'militants'. Well, we know who they are --wink, wink. And nobody on our side is like that. Then there's a big story on those awful ISIL people who behead hostages. And that's evil (another loaded word.) However. there is no mention of beheading as world leaders gather in sorrow over the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia who beheaded people at the rate of 7.000 or so a year, plus cutting off the limbs of thousands more, and sentencing even more to long prison terms with thousands of floggings.

The US, meanwhile, continues its drone attacks all over the world. And the loaded word? It's militants - that's who they kill, militants. And militant is a bad word.  (Well, yes, all soldiers are militants. But we call them militants only if they're on the other side.)

And how do we know the US kills militants? Because he US tells us. And what does militant mean in this loaded language? Well, if they're of the wrong colour or religious, it means anyone of military age. In this case, it was graciously admitted that one was a boy of 12). But this is the tip of the iceberg. Drones fly and kill every day. They hit wedding parties, mistaking them for 'terrorist'gatherings. They hit cars - which might contain terrorists, or might as easily contain a family going for a drive.

Only occasionally are such hits announced by the US government - and that is usually the only news source we have for such attacks. Why?

There are people in Yemen and Pakistan, in countries we have never heard of , who see the attacks, who know how many were killed, and who know who they were. Why don't our news media question them?

Oh. I know. It's because they're, you know, different from us. Indeed, they're often evil (another loaded word) and you can't trust them. I mean, if you want the truth, you have to go to the CIA. They're the good guys.

B5 has the story of anti-government riots that left 15 dead in Egypt. Read it. Tell me where it says that Egypt once had an elected government that was overthrown by the army (with US help and approval.). What took its place was, essentially, a military dictatorship. (Well, the US didn't approve of the elected government. So that's okay.)

Monday's B3 has a bizarre story on the negotiations to normalize relations with Cuba. And there's a gem in there. It seems that Cuba is on the US "terrorist" list.  Let's see, now. Cuba has never attacked the US. It has been friendly, it's true, to Latin American countries that would love to get away from US dictatorship. But I have never heard of Cuba launching terrorist attacks on anybody. The US backed an invasion of Cuba, tried many times to poison or by other means kill Castro, has impoverished Cuba with illegal sanctions, set bombs in Cuba resorts, and blown up a Cuban  airliner, killing all aboard.

And Cuba is on the terrorist list?

Oh, and the US insists that Cuba has to change its government system to allow more freedom. That's rich, coming from a country whose democracy collapsed so long ago and so obviously that the majority of Americans won't even vote. And the US demands more freedom? - the US that submits its people to more government spying than any nation in history? And, of course, changing the system means dumping medicare so elderly Cubans will have the same chance to go bankrupt as elderly Americans. (Medical costs are the leading cause of bankruptcy for elderly Americans.)

In brief, Obama's terms for a relationship with Cuba is that the US has to be given complete control of Cuban affairs.  What would Stephen Harper say if Obama set the same terms for Canada?

(Well,, we know. Harper would say, "Where do I sign?" And the Irving press would applaud. In fact, it's already happening. In the old days, Canada was at war when Britain was at war. Now, Canada is at war when the US is at war. And, like the US, we don't bother to declare war any more.)
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Then there are little items the Irving press missed.

1. The warming of oceans, a warming that threatens all forms of life in them, is now developing so quickly, that scientists are falling behind in measuring it. But don't worry. I'm sure the oil industry will fix it.

2. In Poland the foreign minister has thanked Ukraine for liberating the notorious death camp at Auschwitz late in World War Two. There are just a few little problems with that -
a) Auschwitz was liberated by troops of the Soviet Union
b)Poland was a world leader in persecuting Jews. Many poles happily cooperated with the SS in rounding them up.
c) Ukrainians, far from liberating Jews, were leaders in rounding them up and killing them for Hitler. There is still a Nazi party in the Kyiv government.

In connection with Auschwitz, a story worth reading in the Monday Times and Transcript, perhaps the only one worth reading, is on B6 "Holocaust survivor returning to Auschwitz."  This is a powerful story, well told, with a heart-breaking photo of children standing behind the barbed wire.

The story is about Miriam Friedman Zeigler who appears, in the photo, as a little girl behind the wire. She came to Canada several years later. Why was it several years later? Because Canadians didn't want Jews to come here.

3. In the good news, princess Hilary Clinton, probable candidate for US president, had a break in the midst of bad news. The bad news is that hubby Bill Clinton is accused of sexual adventure again, this time with a 14 year old girl. The good news is that she has found a prince, indeed, a king.  King Abdullah, world champion beheader, dictator, and denier of all rights for women, left her a gift in his will. It's a half-million dollars worth of jewelry.

God bless America
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The Irving press is so intellectually flabby and dishonest that it's not enough to point out its faults. We also need to take a good look at how we got into this mess.  There are precious few good guys; and lots and lots of bad, even evil, people on both sides. That's because people on both sides are human. And we're all constructed partly good and partly bad.

We are also humans who, like all humans, easily fall into fear and hatred. Indeed, the fear and hatred are usually each caused by the other. And many, many news media and leaders around the world use that fear and hatred to do the terrible things we are all doing now, and each side blaming the other side for doing it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Jan. 24: The valiant struggle for democracy and the war on beheaders.....

(because there is so little foreign news in the Irving press, I have touched on some in the last part of this blog, under XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX)

Free-world leaders are united in their grief over the death of the King of Saudi Arabia. Britain has lowered flags to half-mast. Many, including Obama, will visit Saudi Arabia to express their condolences. Stephen Harper is torn by grief.

This is something from Alice in Wonderland.

All the world's blubbering hypocrites are joined in grief over the death of King Abdullah, ruler of the world's most savage dictatorship. the world's leader in denying human rights, and the one behind the world's worst treatment of women. Not only do women have no rights at all  in his kingdom; they aren't even allowed to drive cars. Oh, and when Abdullah died, he was the world leader in beheading which he used for even the most minor crimes.

Remember that the next time was are told we have to fight ISIL because it's evil.

As you read this, a Canadian is serving a ten-year sentence in Saudi Arabia, with a $300,000 fine plus 1,000 lashes for criticizing some Islamic clergy. And where is tough-talk Harper? He's not saying a word. He's too busy shedding tears for the loss of a dictator.

What a pack of hypocrites!

Western oil billionaires never met an evil ruler they didn't like.
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In the Jan 23, edition, Alec Bruce has an important column that our economic leaders (who own our governments) will pay no attention to. He warns that balancing the budget is an admirable objective - but not at any cost, and certainly not at the cost of damaging the economy even further. I would have gone a giant step further.

We  should not balance the budget at the cost of damaging most of the people of Canada.

The severe attempts at balancing the budget in the 1930s depression did nothing to end the depression. Quite the contrary, and as is happening today, cost-cutting made the depression worse year by year, while at the same time making the rich even richer. Now, we have already made things worse, making most people suffer more while make the rich richer through free trade and deregulation. When Liberal and Conservative leaders today use the word freedom, they don't use it to mean freedom for all of us. They use it to mean freedom for the very wealthy. Thus all the tears for that hero, King Abdullah.

Norbert has a column on three topics - wood heat, smoking and violence, thereby demonstrating his ability to say nothing about three things at the same time. The big item is more efficient wood stoves which will, says Norbert, reduce greenhouse gases. Great. Now we can stop climate change and still burn all the oil we like.

Cole Hobson has an opinion column on how to treat a person who has a heart attack while walking along the street with you.  Unfortunately, he doesn't tell us how. Below Cole's column, but substantially above it in quality, is one by Dr. Warren Case who will surely raise controversy with his argument for treatment of the elderly. With this start, it could be an intelligent controversy.
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NewsToday, B3, has a great story on how CBC on-air journalists are being nailed for accepting payment for speeches, etc. to outside parties. CBC haters will love it. That's because they don't know that private broadcasters do it all the time. The difference is that CBC cracks down on it. Private broadcasters don't.

The back page in NewsToday, has its usual full page of photos of people holding up cheques.
Section D back page has Your Business. The big story, complete with a big photo, is ""pet story owner loves animals and his work". Wonderful. Now we're up to date on the business world. The big photo of the owner seems to show he is a pleasant person - but it adds nothing whatever to the story.
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Jan. 24 has MP Robert Goguen on the front page, giving a speech on "Victims' Bill of rights". The report is mostly of him talking but with remarkably little detail, except to say the other parties oppose the bill. Why do they oppose it? Goguen doesn't say. And the reporter didn't bother to ask anybody. There is also a photo of Goguen which, alas, looks just like him.

Speaking of rights, women might remember that Goguen was on a parliamentary committee dealing with the sex trade. He was the one who, when a sex trade worker talked about the horrors and humiliation of the work, used the opportunity to make a sexist joke.
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Bill Belliveau has a shocking title for his column, "The case for hiking taxes on the wealthiest Canadians".
I never thought I would see those words in the Irving press. But they don't mean nearly enough because 1. it's easy for the wealthy to hide their real income. 2.it's not just that their taxes are low, but that they get the lion's share when it comes to government spending. 3.the rich also have far too great an input to the government on spending matters.

Anyway, none of this matters because the whole column is really a pitch for Justin Trudeau because his father was brilliant and his mother beautiful. (Yep. That's what I would look for in any prime minister.) Trudeau hasn't said anything yet, it's true, admits Belliveau. But that makes him flexible. Right.

Brent Mazerolle maintains his near-prefect record of having nothing to say.

Gwynne Dyer's column looks pretty esoteric. But it isn't. It's about Greece, and a tough, new leadership determined to raise it from economic disaster by very unconventional means that will not please bankers. This is a country that doesn't babble about balancing budgets. It's focusing on people, and what they need to survive. Greece is going to fight a very tough fight, indeed. And most of Europe has he same problem - just down the road, and some within sight.
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In NewsToday, there's a lead story on Ebola with a few comments by Dr. Cleary, our chief health officer. There's even a photo of her if you look very, very closely. (She's way  in the background.) The large picture dominating the photo is the Health Minister, the least important person in the photo. (Photos in the Irving press rarely add anything at all to the story.)
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Section F has two, wonderful pages of somebody's house that's for sale for only 600,000 dollars - a wonderful answer to homes for the homeless in Moncton.

Section C, p.13, has a wonderful message for a world lost in wars, starvation, collapsing social systems (including ours), abd the systematic spread of hatreds by our news media. The message is in the sermonette on the Faith Page and, - wait for it - Jesus doesn't want to us worry about the future because we can't do anything about it.

This is the school of thought of those Christians who who feel that the only reason to live is so we can die and spend the rest of eternity walking on golden streets and  clapping hands for Jesus.

Meanwhile, the rest of the page shows that the churches of our region are busy with the real, divine purpose of our lives - attending pancake breakfasts.

So far,I haven't said much about foreign news because there's almost none of it in the paper. So let's take a look at what's not there.
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In North Dakota, there's been a leak of 3 million gallons of saltwater, crude oil, all heavily laced with,the chemicals, some of then secret, of fracking. This comes from a process which, as we have been been assured by Alec Bruce and other writers in he Irving Press, has worked without any problems for decades - and so is perfectly safe.

The three million gallons have now happily bobbed down a laughing brook, and have entered the Missouri River.  ( This story is from Reuters).
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Netanyahu has been invited by the US Congress speak to Congress in March. No big deal? Well....

Such invitations are normally extended by the President. Congress knew that. Netanyahu knew that. Both knew that this would be a public slap in the face to Obama. Both did it, anyway. Even worse, neither of them even bothered to inform the president.

And this is the president who has given billions to Israel, who has defended it from criticism, and has even used his power to cripple the UN so it cannot investigate serious charges against Israel. Why did Congress do this? We have to go all the way back to the 1920s, when Britain ruled Iran.

The British were there so wealthy British could loot Iran's oil. Indeed, as a bonus, Iran had to supply the whole British navy with oil - free.

After the war, Iran became a democracy, and elected a government that felt Iran should control Iranian oil. Britain was furious at this impertinence, and determined to re-conquer Iran. But it needed help. So it offered the US a 25% cut of the oilfields. The US then happily overthrew the democratically elected government, and installed a ruthless dictator.

That's when  Iran, a relatively secular state, more fully embraced traditional Islam. It overthrew the Shah, and elected a government with stronger ties to Islam. Thus US, ever since, has been Iran's enemy.

Israel hated Iran, too, because it threatened the power of Israel in the region. Many years ago, it began accusing Iran of developing nuclear bombs. (Israel is allowed to have them, apparently. But nobody else in the region is.) From the start, Israel has claimed that Iran is just six months from a bomb.

Well, six months have come and gone - and another -and another - and another...with no bomb - and no evidence that one is being developed. But Israel has, all those years, been murdering Iranian scientists, setting bombs, and pressing the US to invade Iran.

Many American politicians have supported that because many American billionaires want control of Iran's oil fields.  But Obama has been working on peace talks, much to the frustration of oil billionaires who don't know where their next billion is coming from - and to the anger of militant Israelis who want to destroy Iran.

That makes all this quite a slap in the face for Obama. And it gets worse.

With the US showing an eagerness for wars, and fighting them non-stop for the last sixty years, many countries - over half the world's population - are forming new alliances. In just ten years, there have been enormous changes in economic and military alliances, changes affecting Russia, China, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America - and with more to come. One of these changes is the alliance between Russia, China and Iran. A very large and economically growing part of the world is now opposed to the US.

And Obama knows that an invasion of Iran could lead (almost certainly would lead) to a world war with both sides having thousands of nuclear weapons. What would be gained for the survivors?  (I say survivors because there would be no winners).

Very little, if anything, would be gained. But billionaires have trouble thinking beyond their greed. And American lawmakers don't think at all beyond the payoffs for doing what billionaires wants them to do.

And what motivates Netanyahu and his supporters? Hate. Pure hate. For those who suffered through it and survived, the holocaust produced massive hate. It was a hate not only of the Naziis, but of a whole world in which few had lifted a finger to help the Jews. That includes Canada and the US. What has struck me mostly about Israelis I have met is their racism and hatred - very different from the Jews I had known all my life. Indeed, Hitler's greatest and only success was a side-effect of the holocaust in the form of severe damage to Judaism. It was never before a religion of hate - but much of it has become so.

Watch this story of Netanyahu speaking to Congress. It may became the most important story you shall ever read.
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After World War 2 and the development of nuclear bombs, a group was formed, using foreign affairs experts and scientists, to determine how close to nuclear war we are - or, as the group put it, how close we are to midnight. It uses minutes, but not to literally mean 'minutes', just to get a sense of the closeness.

It's latest estimate, (which didn't make the Irving Press) was three minutes.



Saturday, January 24, 2015

Jan. 24: Canadian Democracy..R.I.P.

No, I'm not exaggerating. And Canada is not the only democracy that is dead. Let's take a look at it's last breath.

When Britain declared war in 1914, under the law of time Canada was at war, too. That is not as dramatic as it might sound because while the law required Canada to be officially at war, it did not require Canada to take any part in that war. In fact, it was a pretty good deal for Canada, but not so hot for Britain.

Canada did not have to go to the help of Britain but - if Canada were attacked, Britain automatically was required to go to war for the defence of Canada. And Britain had been losing its enthusiasm for having Canada as a colony for that price. In fact, it began losing its enthusiasm as early as the 1870s.

That's when  it was becoming obvious that a united Germany could be a serious threat to Britain as it developed its industrial power. If that happened, Britain would need a very powerful ally. That's when the British looked back on the American revolution with a great deal of regret. The US was just the ally Britain desperately need. If you read the Sherlock Holmes stories, you may remember the scene in which the great detective, on meeting an American, shakes him warmly by the hand, talks of how he regrets their little misunderstanding of 1775, and tells of his hope that the English-speaking people of the world will again unite.

The message was racist, of course. The British of the time were profoundly racist, particularly in the upper class. It was a racism that flourished for some years after World War 2, in which English-speaking people were considered, as Hitler's "aryans" had been, superior to all other people. But there was a problem in developing a US relationship.

Britain was obligated to defend Canada.

In the whole world, there was only one country that could attack Canada. That one country was the United States. And the danger was not theoretical.  The US had invaded in 1812, It sponsored attacks on Canada after the US civil war. It officially objected to having Canadian troops based n western Canada. And, in 1903,  British, Canadian and American delegates had to deal with a US claim that it was entitled to annex a strategic part of Canada along the Alaska border.

The three sides were due to vote on it. The US president warned then that if the vote went against the US claim, US troops would be sent in. The British government was close to panic. The last thing it needed was to go to war against the US to defend a colony which was no longer of great value to it. And so the vote was held.

Canada voted for the Canadian side. Britain and the US voted for the US side. Some fifteen years later, Britain would make sure such a risk would never occur again. It abandoned the obligation for Canada to be at war when Britain was. At the same stroke of a pen, it abandoned its obligation to defend Canada. And so Canada was given the right to declare war on its own.

Among the politicians, and in many history books, this became a great gain for Canada. And so it was. And credit for it was given to the Canadians who had died fighting for it in World War 1 - a claim that would have surprised those soldiers because nobody ever told them that was what they were fighting for. We still hear that every Nov. 11.  But, no. We got the right to declare war on our own because Britain wanted to get rid of us.

Still, it was a major gain. No country can call itself a democracy unless its people, through their elected representatives, have the right to declare or to not to declare war. Nor is this any minor affair. It is probably the most important decision any democracy has to make, and one so dangerous that it can be impossible to predict the extent of the damage and death it may cause.

Today, Canada is at war. Canadian aircraft are firing rockets at people in a foreign country. The rockets are directed by Canadian soldiers on the ground.  People on the other side shoot at our soldiers. Our soldiers shoot at them. Harper says this is not a war. So he has not taken it to Parliament.

Our buddy in this is the United States, a country which also rejoices in the right to declare war on its own, through its elected representatives. Care to guess the last time the US declared war?

1941

Since then it has killed millions in what were, correctly, called wars. But they were never declared by the elected representatives of the people. Add to that the ones all over the world that we have never heard about, that are carried out by drones, special ops.... There have been at least hundreds of them, many right here in the Americas. Our news media seem  to have taken all this pretty casually.

Every Jan. 7, Americans remember the treachery, savagery, of those sneaky Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbour without declaring war. In fact, Japan  considered it a point of honour to declare war before the attack, and it tried to do so. But failed. And now we know that treachery and savagery can come from our side, too.

Nobody knows how big this war can get. Nobody knows how far it can go. For fifty years, the US has been showing the world that it cannot fight short wars - and usually can't win them. This war could go on for years, killing thousands of Canadians for----what? To preserve freedom? Come off it. Harper and Obama and that whole, wretched lot are slobbering over the death of the king of Saudi Arabia, the world greatest dictator, the man who beheaded more people than anybody, and who denied women the most basic rights. Harper and Obama don't give a damn about freedom or human rights.

We are also in a world of very quickly changing alliances. It is possible, very possible that this war will expand into a world war - and this one in a world full of nuclear weapons. Then the deaths will move into the tens of millions - and quite possibly, much more.

Why are we in it? Skip the bullshit, Harper. What does this war have to do with Canada?

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What is an act of war? It is a violent or forceful interference in the affairs of another people. And, yes, firing rockets and shooting at people comes in that category. So was helping Cuban rebels to attack at the Bay of Pigs. So was the blowing up of a Cuban civilian airliner by an American agent. Trade embargoes and sanctions - such as those against Russia and Iran - are acts of war.

Once upon a time, going to war was the most solemn decision a nation could make. That's why democracies all made the decision only with the consent of the representatives of the people. Now, we're lucky even to get informed of it. This presence in battle of Canadian special ops is almost certainly not the first time it has happened. We are so closely tied to US special ops that it would be astonishing if they have not gone to war on other occasions. Nobody in our news media has thought to find out about this. Nobody in our news media has thought to tell us what the word 'war' means - so we can't know when Harper is lying to us.

A fundamental principle of democracy has been taken from us. And it's not the first time. Harper has been fond of lumping all sorts of laws into one bill - one bill so long that MPs, far from having any chance to debate it, many not even have enough time to read it.

Our democracy has been destroyed. It's been destroyed before us we stood with our faces hanging out.

Where the hell are our news media?

Where the hell are the Canadian people?


Friday, January 23, 2015

Jan.23: I should never read an Irving press newspaper quickly....

....no matter how dumb and boring it might appear to be.

I made that mistake on B1 of the Jan. 22 issue, "Health system lacks focus, says Council CEO".

Well, it looked boring. But today was boring, anyway, so I thought I'd go back, and take a look at it. The Health Council of New Brunswick is an outfit that does "research" on health services. So I glanced at the "research".

Apparently, they questioned people across Canada to ask whether they thought their health was Excellent, very good, etc.

Why? Are Canadians in general experts on their own health? And, if so, why aren't we all doctors, bringing our wonderful gift for analysis to the world?

New Brunswickers ranked lowest in Canada. So? Maybe New Brunswickers are pessimists. Maybe it's because they're older than the average for Canada. Maybe it's because of some impurity in Irving gas. How much lower do they feel? The story doesn't tell us. Is it lowest by 1%? Or lowest by 25%. It makes a difference. But the story doesn't tell us.

As it is, 54 % of New Brunswickers think their health is very good to excellent. That sounds impressive. And what about how many say it's good? The story doesn't say.

How many people were surveyed? What are the figures for other provinces? What is the margin of error? It's standard practice to include these because surveys mean nothing without that information. But it never occurred to the reporter or the editor to ask those questions.

And what does this survey mean, anyway? This is worse than incompetent. It's even worse than lying. It looks like new heights of stupidity.

Oh,  yeah. The story concludes by saying the council gets data from various statistical sources and surveys. Well, yeah. I never figured they got them from lottery tickets. But how did they choose the sources, and how credible are they and how competent is the council to interpret such figures?

So I checked the Council on the web. And that's when the smell got really bad.

It gives a list of council employees. It seems it has only three analysts. The other eight people on staff are administrative, including a grandly titled  CEO. Talk about administrative overload!

It is never clear on who started it. Or why. It is  not clear on its relationship with private business - though there certainly seems to be one, and it certainly operates like one. Is it a government body of some sort? There is certainly a relationship with government, and it certainly seems to be welcome in government circles. But nowhere can I find any suggestion that it is a government body.

So. Who pays the bills for 8 administrators and 3 researchers of undefined credentials? The CEO comes into this straight from two, well-paid jobs, one in private business. Unless he brownbags it to work, and spends his evenings panhandling on Main St., somebody is paying him and his minions. Who?  Why?

If I were suspicious, and I am suspicious, I would guess that the New Brunswick Health Council is yet another front for big business in this province, putting out propaganda to give the wealthy even more power in this province - and, along the way, to infiltrate the heath system so it can be gradually turned into another course of private profit for the very rich.

Apparently, a copy of the report was sent to the Health Minister who says he hasn't had time to read it yet. If I were the  health minister, and if I received a "scientific" report that only 54% feel their health is very good to excellent, I would toss it in the wastebasket, and tell the people at Health Council of New Brunswick to go find honest work. And if I were an editor assigning a reporter to cover the story, I'd tell the reporter to give a full account of exactly what the Health Council is, and remind him to ask questions.

But this is New Brunswick.

As for me, I do not know exactly what the Health Council is or who finances it. But this is New Brunswick. So I strongly suspect that the Health Council is a propaganda front for the very wealthy - as are the Irving press, the Liberals and the Conservatives. And this is worse than propaganda. This is playing the game Irving played in the last election - deliberately intruding into the affairs of a society that never elected him.