Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May 4: Call me forgetful...

As I write this, I am preparing for a very busy week starting in an hour or so. That means this blog is not likely to appear again until May 11. I remembered only last night that this busy period was starting today.

Accordingly, today's blog is likely to be a short one. And we'll start by skipping the Irving press because it is always its same, miserable self.
An item to watch for in The Guardian will be any news about a proposed vote in Britain to leave the European Union. (It's referred to, in brief, as brexit.) If Britain were to do so it would be likely to have very serious consequences.
The European Union is a structure, along with NATO, that is essential to U.S. power, both economic and military, in Europe. President Obama is alarmed enough so that he has issued a rare, public statement while in Britain opposing the exit. This amounts to a public interference in British domestic politics, somethinig that is just not done to an ally.

Should the British vote to exit, that would almost certainly lead to Scotland declarinig its independence of Britain. It could also lead to more departures from the EU, especially as the refugee crisis grows.

As well, it is possible that some European nations will come to see good relations with Russia as more important that good relations with the U.S. After all, should the U.S. push for a war with Russia, Eastern Europe would be in the front line. In fact, all of Europe would be in the front line.

The place to follow this is in the UK edition of The Guardian.
It looks as though Trump has sewn up the Republican leadership. At this point, any attempt by party bosses to rig the vote would be even more damaging to it than letting Trump win. I think all the most terrible things said about him are true. But I think Hillary Clinton is even worse. And, in any case, I'm not at all sure she can defeat Trump in a national election. In fact, it's more likely that Sanders could beat him. But the big money is almost certain to block Sanders' bid for leadership.

The election will certainly be exciting with Trump against Clinton, with Trump erratic, shallow and irresponsible, and Clinton greedy and really, quite evil.
Here the story of the collapse of government in Iraq, the one the Irving press didn't bother to look at.
Here's  some outstanding common sense on the confrontations between Russia and the U.S. along the Russian borders. Europe may very well decide there is nothing in it from these U.S. pressures on Russia. And that may well lead to a breakdown of NATO and the European Union.
There are lots of stories about Detroit that don't make the news. This once-prosperous city became a victim of free trade when auto-makers pulled out to re-establish in regions without unions and with very, very low pay.

Much of the city is abandoned, much of it unemployed, and violent. The city has made it worse by cutting off even basic services like water. (Just recently, it cut off water for drinking, bathing, sewage, everything to another 20,000 places.) The country which is said to have spent, in recent years, a trillion dollars on nuclear weapons and trillions on 'defence', the country in which executives can make millions just in bonusses every year, and in which the wealthy can avoid taxes through the use of 'tax havens' cannot afford to feed or house the rising numbers of its poor or supply them with water.

Now, the state of Michigan has come very close to closing its schools in Detroit so it won't have to pay its teachers. It has now bent a little on that - for a price. Teachers will not get salary increases, and will not be permitted to strike.
The article doesn't mention privatized schools. But I'd be willing to bet they didn't get any cuts.
And now, time is knocking on my head. See ya.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 3: The no news for New Brunswick

The Canada&World section never fails to amaze me. One of the big stories is that an RCMP officer had to shoot a bear because it was coming to toward him. Another - Prince Harry is in Toronto to shake hands with people.  (of course. What else is there to do in Toronto?) It was exactly one year ago that premier Notley of Alberta defeated the conservatives. (who could possibly care?) Okay, give it a couple of lines. But a half page?  And people flying economy class don't like those flying first class. So bloody what?

On page 4 of a six-page section, we're still not out of Canada. And almost every word in those six pages is trivial. Then there are two pages that tell us nothing much - closing with the polar bear getting shot.

 The Canada and World section is too bad to be simply  the result of stupidity and incompetence. After all,  you have to work to find news as irrelevant as this.This is just trash. As it happens, a reader sent me some stories that really are important
So here are the reader's stories.

I think it was yesterday that the Irving press carried the news that the Syrian government had used sarin, an illegal chemical agent, against the rebels. But according to Seymour Hersh, who beats anybody on the Irving staff, the sarin had been captured by the U.S. in Libya. It was then sent to Syria - but to the "rebels", not to Assad. And the person who signed the approval for that was - Hillary Clinton.

Then there's this item. Note from its wording that it is sympathetic to the U.S. position, so this isn't just some anti-American attack. It's not anti-American at all. But it's a sample of the tremendous dangers that face us, dangers that the Irving press doesn't seem to notice in its lah-dee-dah news gathering.

Wars very seldom work out as they are supposed to. The world went to war in 1914 with little sense of the impact the machine gun would have, and how it and barbed wire would bog down  both sides. In 1939, the British, Americans and, at the start, the Germans, had little idea of how to use tanks or what performance in speed,  gun power and armour was needed. Hitler lost the Battle of Britain because he had not anticipated the need for heavy bombers and long-range fighters. Vietnam and Iraq were supposed to be fast and easy wars. So was Afghanistan. But it's still being fought after fifteen years.

Planning a war is rarely a sure thing. It's rather more like playing Russian roulette with a revolver.
Section A is  not as good as Canada&World. It has a long story on mayoral candidates in Dieppe without telling us anything useful about either of them. A men's wear store in Moncton has new owners. Who could possibly care? An upper class hotel in London, England serves McCain's french fries. Be still, my heart.

The editorial and Norbert's column are about topics that have long since been talked to death.

The guest commentary, calling for povincial help for the Bas-Caraquet boatyard, is by the CEO of a shipping company. What a surprise! It is not, to put it gently, a very convincing commentary, partly because of its lack of evidence.

For some, probably bizarre, reason, the picture over the boatyard commentary is of a monster cruise-liner that looks like a high-rise hotel. I'm quite sure that picture was not taken at the Bas Caraquet boatyard; and I'm quite sure the boatyard will not be building those. So what's the point of the picture?

Alec Bruce again chooses to write about nothing.

Louis Glibert's column "seniority rules" is, as always, a useful one. But it's not really a commentary. It should be on an advice page.
John Kerry has backed himself (and maybe the world) into a terrible corner. He wants to separate terrorist groups, like al Quaeda from the Syrian 'rebels', and also to stop the help they've been getting from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others. One of the problems of that is, of course, Saudi Arabia and others don't want such a separation. And the problem was created by the U.S. in the first place because it initiated the policy of secretly supplying money, weapons and other help to these groups as well as to ISIS. That happened because the U.S. wanted to get rid of Assad. Originally, the plan was that the 'rebels' would take care of that. But the rebels failed, partly because they have little support within Syria. As well, many of them are mercenaries and/or have close ties to terrorist groups.
The U.S. still wants to get rid of Assad. But the Russian entry into the war has pretty much forced the rebels and ISIS out of the picture. Tough luck. The U.S. really has nobody else to deal with to get rid of Assad. It's Russia or nobody.

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave..."
The overthrow of South American governments by invasion, assassination, mass murder is common practice for American governments. It's done to keep South America as easy pickings for American (and Canadian) corporations in agriculture (like Dole), in mining, and other fields. That's what the killing in Guatemala was about ( several times), the long hostility to Cuba, the invasion of Haiti, the assassination of the president of Chile....

For some reason, the Irving press never mentions these. I wonder why.
And here's some news on the big trade deal that the Irving press seems never to have heard of.
And one more on that latin world that never exists in the pages of the Irving press.
And here is a report that New Brunswickers should take seriously, very seriously. There is no hope for this province as long as its people are afraid to be different - afraid to disagree.
Norbert Cunningham wrote recently that he finds the CBC lacking in the high quality journalism that he is accustomed to. He should lower himself to listen to it more often. Here's a story we haven't seen in the Irving press. But it's an important one. The 'hotline' connecting Washington and Moscow has been restored This takes us back to cold war days. And that means we're again just a step from a world war.
Putin has established himself as the decisive figure in the fighting in Syria. The U.S., which has been specializing in foreign policy blunders for at least 15 years, is now only a bit player with limited influence even among its allies.This decline of U.S. power goes back at least to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and, of course, the policies of George Bush so closely followed by the same policies under Obama.

But the policies were not set by either Bush or Obama. They were set by a much older problem - the dominance of billionaires in setting foreign policy. Their only interest in foreign policy arises from their greed - and they have made some very bad decisions as a result.

George Bush Sr. understood that. That's why he was very much opposed to his son's foreign policy. (But then, the father always had more brains than either of his sons.)

There's good book by a man who undersood early what was going wrong. He wrote a book on it in 2004 which still holds up well. It's Gwynne Dyer, Future Tense: The Coming World Order.

But - a caution. It can be depressing.
Now, for your spritual moment. There are many similarities between  Islam and Christianity. That's hardly surprising  since both come from much the same people in the same region. Both believe in the End Times - the end of the world. Both believe that Jesus will return to the world at that time. The only difference is that Muslims say he will then get married. Both believe in the  resurrection of the dead, the clash with the anti-Christ, the judgement for heaven or hell....
As to  behaviour, there are also similarities. There was a point when the Catholic church took a back seat to nobody in torture and killing - the latter often by beheading, just like ISIS. Discrimination against Jews was common in the Christian world - including in Canada and the U.S. There was many a Christian (including  Hitler) who played a leading role in the holocaust.

I don't know many Muslims, so I really don't know how many look forward to the 'end times'. But I have known many Christians who are. (There was a time when I often conducted services on Sunday - and many, many times that I spoke in synagogues (though not conducting the service.)

Christians, especially fundamentalists who believe that every word of the Bible was dictated by God, often look forward with great joy to the end times. (Because they're going to heaven - and you aren't.) And the belief that these are the end times has been particularly strong in the last fifty years or so. That's why Israel suffers a plague of evangelists going knocking on doors and handing out pamphlets to Israelis warning them to convert - fast.

I   wonder how much these beliefs have affected our views of the world and what's happening to it?

Monday, May 2, 2016

May 2: Double-talk in the news.

Elie Wiesel's story of his early childhood in the Buchenwald death camp, of how the people around him, including his own family, were starved, brutalized and murdered is the most moving book I have ever read. It's called "Night". The New York Times called it a 'terrifying book'. It's actually somehing even worse than that.

That's why the story below, from "Haaretz" came as a shock to me. Unfortunately, the story doesn't tell us nearly enough to get the meaning of all this.

One of the most terrible parts is Wiesel's reference to countries that knew what was happening to Jews long before, and during, the war - and didn't lift a finger to help. These were countnries like Britain, France, the United States and,   right up with the worst of them, Canada.

Today, the Jews of Israel are in a very dangerous position again. While they have their own country, their situation is a very difficult one.  Their nuclear weapons are not the final word that most people think they are, and they live a hostile environment, partly their own fault, partly the fault of us who should have known what a  dangerous situation we were setting up when we created Israel. It's so dangerous that Israel is losing its Jewish citizens, many of them to return to the European homelands they had fled from.
The big headline and long story for the day in the Irving press is that the president of NB Liquor spent more on travel costs this year than last. There's no hint of anything improper. So why such a big story? Well, it fills a lot of space.
There could have been a big story rather than the small one for yesterday's celebration of Battle of the Atlantic day. (Actually, Battle of the North Atlantic).  For example, it's the only theatre of war  in which Canada had supreme command.

One veteran at the ceremony spoke of the hardhips of crossing the North Atlantic in winter in tiny corvettes with the water in the ship often up to the sailors' knees.  It was unspeakably miserable. When the war ended and my father came home, his first move was to take down a picture of the Bluenose in heavy weather that the hung in his bedroom. And, for the rest of his life, the only water travel he would do was in a canoe on a small lake.

The editorial and Norbert Cunningham columns will offend nobody That's the best that can be said for them. Craig Babstock's column "Elections just like your future; both are entirely in your hands" is pointless drivel. Everything it has to say is in the headline which is not only useless information - but wrong. Our futures are not entirely in our hands. There are huge differences in opportunity. Elections are - sort of - in our hands; but only in the sense that everybody has a share. None of us can elect someone all by ourselves.

More to the point is Steve Malloy who is disgusted by the ugliness of the election posters on our streets, and disgusted that we have no idea who these people are or what they stand for.  There's a reason for that.

This newspaper has given us almost no indication of the major issues facing this city - except, of course,  for finishing the events centre. We have no information of the big problems we have to prepare for - NOW. There are big ones in housing development, for example,  and public transit.

And we have no idea what those faces on the billboards stand for. The total contribution to the Irving press on this has been two columns by candidates who told us nothing. With that kind of information service, how is it possible for anyone to know who to vote for?

Cananda&World is a lousy, 4 pages. One of the stories you really need to know is  that inmates of Newfoundland prisons don't like their new, orange uniforms.

There are only two stories worth reading - for quite different reasons.

Mike Duffy returns to the Senate this week. But the senate leaders, who refused to continue his pay after he was charged, insist they will not  not  give him  his back pay. Now, I dislike Duffy and everything he stands for. But he was found innocent of the charges. He should get his back pay. To stop it is a demonstration of petty vengefulness by the Conservative leadership.

Then there's the lead story. This is a prime example of how our news media use 'news' as propaganda.

The U.S. as asked Russia to stop the bombing of Aleppo in Syria. Why? Two reasons. One is to restore the truce talks between the warring sides. The other, we are told, is because the U.S. is concerned about the civilian death toll. The first reason is a good one. The second reason is a lie.

1. The U.S. killed about a million civilians, possibly more, in Iraq.

2. It has deliberately killed civilians as the major target, sometimes the only target, in Vietnam, Cambodia, Guatemala, Cuba (a civilian airliner), Irag, Afghanistan, Libya; and the U.S. with Canada and Britain has been supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia to kill civilians.

3. It created the civil war in Syria in the first place. It recruited and supplied the so-called 'rebels' (who are often terrorists). It has been helping ISIS in Syria by allowing its oil on the market, by conducting very feeble attacks on it,  and by actually supplying ISIS.

It's quite true that Russia is killing civilians. But it's also true that the U.S. couldn't care less about that. In fact, the U.S. is, and has been for some time, the world's leading killer of civilians.

And, of course, the story tells us all about the eagerness of the US  to deal with this through the UN. In fact, the United Nations has been virtually destroyed - largely at the hands of the US government. Anyone who has read the speeches, etc. of those leading Republicans who are called 'neocons' (George Bush Jr., Dick Cheney, Ted Cruz...) knows their hatred for the UN.

The UN was intended not to rule the world but to provide some level of law that would prevent major wars. The U.S. destroyed that. It's drone attacks are illegal under international law. It's invasion of Iraq was illegal. Torture of prisoners was illegal. The U.S. constantly ignores the UN. And for reason.

The U.S. wants to rule the world. That's what American Exceptionalism means. That's what the Project for the New American Century means. The U.S. wants the power to rule the world (no elections) as the ultimate imperial power.  (Which means the wealthiest Americans would rule the world.) And the law would be whatever the U.S. wealthy want it to be.

What can the UN do? It can scarcely call on the rest of the world to invade the U.S.  After all, the role of the UN is to maintain peace, not to create war.
So the U.S. has, for decades, been making the UN more and more ineffective. Canada rides with the U.S. on this because it has no choice.

Europe does have choices. watch for a splintering as some Europeans decide to opt for partnership with Russia. Watch as New Zealand edges away from a U.S. partnership that could soom be less useful than one with, say, China.
On the day World War 2 ended, I had been sent home from school for being late. My mother took me to downtown Montreal to see the crowds on St. Catherine St. Stunned, I watched the cheering mobs, then wandered down the street to look at the signs in the store windows. They were the ones I was used to from the war years -  V... __ for victory, Loose Lips Sink Ships. Then I saw a new one.  "We've won the war," it said. That stopped me. It looked good. We've won the war. Yeah.

 Then I read the rest. "Now we've got to win the peace."

 That was crazy.

I mean, we'd won the war. So, of course, we must have won the peace.
I was astonished that the following story did not appear in the Irving press. There was time to get it in. How could they miss such an uprising in Iraq while Iraq is fighting a war? I don't know who edits world news in the Irving press. It must be the office cat.

What has happened is that the 'democratic' government imposed by the U.S. is not democratic at all. Most Iraqis associate it with a U.S. they dislike at least as much as they dislike ISIS.
Here's another version of the story of the bombing in Aleppo as well as other parts of Syria. Read it, and watch for the information given here which is not in the Irving press story of the same event.
Here's a   variation on the Canadian line that Canadian troops are on a non-combat mission in Iraq - but there might be combat.
And here's a good explanation of the double-talk we often call news.
The next one is going to sound pretty radical. It is. But, according to Oxfam, just 62 people - remember that  62 - own half all all the wealth in the world. I think that's pretty radical, too. And those 62 could very well drive the world into nuclear war. That's not propaganda. That's reality.

Uncontrolled capitalism does not work. While uncounted millions starve, 62 people who could feed the world - don't. But they want even more. They will always want more.  And the thrust for that even more has us on the edge of world nuclear war.

Consider, too, that those people are almost certainly not paying taxes. So they are pulling out money from all over the world -   which simply increases poverty in the world.

I've found, over the years, that Paul Craig Roberts is one of the best commentators in the world. So get a good look at the picture he's drawing.

And, no, I'm not advocating marxism. Marxism is an idea that presumes a mature and principled society. Us humans aren't that. And I suspect we never shall be.
This story, on the fifth anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden comes as a surprise. I have no inside information on this. But Seymour Hersh is one, impressive reporter.
There are a number of stories about Hitler making a deal with Britain and the U.S. to deport German Jews to Israel (Palestine) in the 1930s. I don't know whether it's true; but it doesn't tell us much. Britain, the U.S. a and virtually all of Europe were anti-semitic. They found Hitler's ideas quite acceptable, and would happily have supported such a deportation. There's a reason why Israel is so distrustful of us.

To this day, we get almost no information on the Nazism that still infects much of Europe And, certainly, our news media have given no sense of the prominence of Naziis in Ukraine. Or of the Nazi (or, at least, fascist) principles in our 'democratic' governments.

There's no reason why this next  item should cause any surprise. With the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, we're on the edge of a revolutionary change with corporations becoming completely apart from government and, in fact, taking over what are now government functions.

If you're looking for the next revolution, forget communism. This is far more sweeping than communism - and more brutal. And I would not trust Trudeau on this one at all.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 30: Why count killings by U.S. police?

It's not an attack on the U.S. police in particular or on police in general though, sometimes, I think The Guardian leans a bit to placing all the blame on the U.S. police. It's important to keep a record of the killings and to know why they happened. U.S. police kill more people in a few days than most western democracies kill in a year and more than a year. When that happens, it's a signal of social breakdown - and where that can take us is anybody's guess. That's why it's important to know how many are dying, to seek out imbalances in the numbers, and to find out the conditions under which they are dying.

I don't think the U.S. police are the whole problem. American social structure is, itself, a major part of the problem.
I won't spend much time on the Irving press because today is even worse than usual. Section A news is trivial. The editorial and the Norbert Cunningham column are adolescent gush about the events centre, the city council elections, vision and a "city for the future".

Two of the commentaries are free ads for two people running for city council. And they feature all the usual vague and trite terms - "Leadership is about inspiring people". "troubled waters need a steady hand.."

Did it not occur to any of the editors that offering campaign space for just two of the candidates is unethical and even dishonest journalism?

And Alec Bruce's column? More gush about the events centre.  He notes that "some" estimates say it will return three dollars for every one dollar spent on it. But he's silent on who it is that made these estimates. No matter, though, because he also put himself into the impossible prediction mode, and says it will do even better.

His next column should go a step further. Isn't it wonderful that the wealthy of this province, the ones who ripped off our forests, who seem to avoid taxes, and who constantly look to government for charity for the rich are going to let us pay for the centre and to get all that profit. That means they are giving up, by Alec Bruce's estimate, some four million dollars just so us workies can have it all.
God bless them. They're saints. That's what they are.
Canada&World news seldom gets out of Canada - or even out of New Brunswick. Only a few items are worth reading.

1. Bombardier aircraft, though it has just signed a two billion dollar contract with an American airline, wants us taxpayers to give it another billion. Capitalism in action.
2. A Canadian-backed health centre in Syria was destroyed in a bombing. Nobody knows who did the bombing. But the story, as always in such cases, gives strong hints it was the Russian or Syrian government who did it. I have never seen such journalistic hints that pointed to our side.  And it's really not good journalism to include such speculation in a news story.  In any case, the bombing of schools and hospitals has long been a common practice of all sides. Think of the recent story of Americans who delberately bombed a hospital repeatedly, killing doctors, nurses, patients ... And they were let off with a slap on the wrist.
3. And Ottawa is back to playing games over the problem-plagued and very expensive F-35. What we need first is some definition of what it is our military is supposed to be for. Is it to fight U.S. wars as we used to fight British ones? If so, we should simply become a branch of the U.S. military, and use the same equipment it does.

If not, what does the defence of Canada mean?  Once you decide,  then that meaning defines what the military needs.

Too bad that discussion is never going to happen.
As for the Faith Page, all is forgiven. It's a well-written one on some of the things that various religious denominations are about. I think that there are other, less pleasant things they are about as well  - but this is a a good start to a needed discussion of those things they aren't, but should be about.

I note, too, that almost half of the Faith page is now ads. And if you examine the bottom ad closely, the one about J.D.Irving Ltd., you'll note, I think, that it involves toilet paper, a devout reminder that we have to cleanse the body as well as the soul.

And, oh, I do with that paper would recognize that we have people of faith who are not Christian.
And here's a story that one would have expected to find in the Irving press. After all, a great deal of Canada is in the north.

Tell us again about those deluded people who think that climate and environmental changes represent some sort of crisis.
And, gee, here's a story about Canada that one would think the Irving press would have noticed. It's about the Leap Forward proposal put forward at the recent NDP convention.

I can't wait to read Mr. Cardy's response to this. Wouldn't he be happier with a party that is closer to his thinking like, say, the Conservatives?
And here's what climate change looks like.
So why don't we do more about climate change? Here's a hint.

Aren't we lucky JDIrvingLtd. would never dream of interfering with government like that? No, sir. It's one person, one vote in New Bruswick. We're all equal.
The story below is actually from The Intercept, which looks like a source worth following.
This is an important story, and Seymour Hersh is a top-level journalist. But, oh, it's a tough read because he's a  terribly breathless talker. The bottom line is that Obama always had ground troops in Syria, and is now increasing their number. Hersh  does not explain - as fully as he should - why this is so terrible.

It's terrible because this is exactly what ISIS wants Obama to do. Almost the whole, Muslim world hates the U.S. ( with good reason.) But most Muslims do not want war. ISIS does. But it needs more supporters. That's why it wants more attacks and killing by the U.S. to change the minds of Muslims all over the world, to make them want to fight the U.S. And the way to do that is to increase American assaults on the Muslim world. This is what terrorism is all about. it's a means for the weaker side to gather support against the stronger one. The best recruiters for terrorism are people like Donald Trump, George Bush, Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton....
The source for this story is, admittedly, a source that has a bias against the U.S. But, it also appeared on CBS news, and it quotes the US military chief of staff. The U.S. has thousands of troops in Iraq.  Their role is supposedly non-combat. But they have frequently been in combat and have suffered casualties.

What a coincidence! Canada is sending non-combat troops to Syria. And, like the Americans in Iraq, they are armed.

We have joined the U.S. in walking into a swamp that it will be very difficult to get out of. And one that has no value worth the price of being there. The U.S., the world's most expensive military, now finds itself bogged down in three wars  ( Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria). Two of them are the longest wars the U.S. has ever fought. As well, the only opponent it has defeated in the last fifty years is the island of Genada. And there's a new war with Libya. We are putting our troops in an impossible situation.

You want peace in the middle east? You'll never get it by killing people. But it could be achieved by spending the money on the help they need to rebuild their countries, and leave them alone to settle their own political systems.
And that would defeat ISIS far sooner than our military will.
I am not familiar with this writer; but John Craig Roberts vouches for her - and his word is pretty good.

The bottom line is that for fifteen years, the U.S. has been killing Muslims by the millions. That's what created ISIS. That's what draws support and recruits to ISIS. Militarily and in terms of foreign policy this makes no sense at all.
But the U.S. government doesn't make military or foreign policy. Those are set by the billionaires who own American governments.
Finally, there's the site that the author above writes for -

It's one of those sites that, even if you disagree with it, provokes thought. I'm going to add it to my list  of sites to watch.

Friday, April 29, 2016

April 29: Why are Terrorists Terrorists....?

Donald Trump will tell you it's because they're a lower form of human made evil by their religion and, therefore, not intelligent and peaceful like us Christians. In fact, all the leadership candidates will tell you that - or something close to that.
All this is based on what is essentially racist ideology. So let's go to a different starting point. Let's presume that terrorists are people of normal intelligence who have reasons for what they do. Let's start with 9/11. On that day, they killed over 3,000 Americans. Why?

Did they think the U.S. would instantly surrender? Not bloody likely. 3,000 people and a couple of buildings? No.  Dreams of a U.S.surrender had nothing to do with it.

Cripple the American armed forces? Puh-lease.

It was intended to provoke an American attack on some part, any part, of the Muslim world. It was to make Americans hate Muslims. And the U.S. walked right into it, creating two of the biggest military and foreign policy disasters of any country's history - Iraq and Afghanistan. And what would the terrorists gain by this?

For starters, they would gain recruits for a Muslim war against the U.S. The American reaction to 9/11 would lay the base for war between the U.S. and the Muslim world. 9/11 summed up the grievances of a Muslim world pillaged and dominated by the the west for over a century. Of all the oil wealth that poured out of their lands, most Muslims saw almost nothing.

A violent reponse by the U.S. to 9/11 would bring a century and more of anger and frustration to the surface. It would bring forward people willing to die, to blow themselves up even as they blew up westerners. It would create a mood that would encourage the rise of a Muslim army to face down the west. The Americans reacted exactly as Osama bin Laden hoped they would. And the result of all that was the creation of ISIS - which had been bin Laden's goal from the start.

Even in death, bin Laden has been winning ever since 9/11. American foreign policy has been a shambles ever since 9/11. The best policy, and the safest for the whole world, would be for the U.S. to withdraw from the middle east; and let the region settle its own problems. Nor would it have have any effect on the availability of oil. The profit from it would then go to the people of the middle east, of course, and not to a handful of western billionaires - mostly American. But when I fill my tank, I don't care who gets the profit.

The more difficult question is how to get the U.S. out of the region without losing face. That gets more difficult each day as the U.S. increases its involvement. There are those who think it's better to risk a world war and save face  than to step back.

Bin Laden's plan was also helped by an American far, far right think tank called  "Project for the New American Century". Most westerners never paid much attention to it. But bin Laden  probably did. It was on the web for everybody, including bin Laden to see. And it was a plan for world conquest by the U.S.. And it was drawn up by people who became major figures in the Bush administration. Our news media never paid the attention to that it should have.
It played right into bin Laden's plans. Here were people in the U.S. government planning for a world conquest by the U.S.  - the sort of conquest that the Muslim world has learned to hate in more than a century of them.

The intelligent thing for the U.S. and NATO would be to get out. They cannot solve the ptoblems of the middle east. In fact, they ARE the major problems of the middle east. And, by staying there, we are making a world war almost a   certainty.

And we have no capacity to win such a war if it is a conventional one. And nobody has any capacity to win if it's a nuclear war.
The Irving press is its usual self. The editorial talks about the need to improve the food bank system. It admits this would be costly. So far, so good. But, as with everything that costs anything, I have never seen a mention of the role of the wealthy in this. How much do they pay in taxes? Do they pay taxes at all? It is not possible to discuss any economic issue without some mention of those who have most of the money. But, obviously, the Irving press isn't going to let that happen.

Norbert Cunningham has a column which has interesting bits on what poll results really mean. This will be an exciting read for people who care what they really mean.

The guest commentary is yet another one by a politician. Look. If a politician says something useful, then you quote it in a news story. I have yet to see one of these politicals speeches disguised as commentary that said anything. Nor do I have much of a patience with a newspaper    which prints only the speeches of two parties. If we're going to  have political speeches in the paper, ALL parties should have equal access.

Alec Bruce has a column of despair about the Senate. And despair is all one can do because nobody is going to run the risk of all the political dealing that would have to go on in order to change the constitutional definition of the Senate.
Then, there is a column on Canadian Marketing Boards and their failure to help farmers. It's well written. It looks convincing. But my knowledge of farming is limited to five years of failing to grow the melon my farmer ancestors supplied to King Edward V11, the Decarie Melon. I think this is a good column - but better to seek the advice of a farmer on it.
The Canada&World section is a smorgasboard of leftovers. The biggest story (and so, presumably the most important story in the world) is that the CEO of Irving shipbuilding says Irving Shipbuilding can  build anything our navy needs.
Well, that's a relief.

Can it also pay taxes?
Here's a story that has received little coverage in our press. It's about car companies faking carbon emissions tests. This not only breaks the law; it also seriously damages human health. But nobody has been charged for it - and nobody will be. And the list of such companies is far more than this article suggests. Japan, for example, is also involved.

There is also concern that car makers may have been playing games with safety requirements. if so, people will die for that. But not the car makers. Big business kills. It's only objective is profit no matter what the cost to the public or even to human life. And governments won't touch it. We saw that in the U.S. bank bailouts, and we're seeing in the car  scandal.
...and speaking of evading the law...

Those airmen knew what they were attacking. The attacks were prolonged; and there were repeated calls to tell the the air controllers what they were attacking.
Trudeau often makes the foreign press. Here's a tentative appraisal of him in The Guardian. I think it's wise to  wait and see because, so far, I've seen little to suggest he has any of his father's abilities.
The speech by Trump looked sensible for the first sentence or so. But it rapidly collapses into the old approach to Russia - using different words. As for his reference to NATO, Trump is talking nonsense. When he refers to NATO "paying its share", he obviously means NATO acting as an agent of U.S. policy.Bin Laden would love it. Why do you think ISIS is setting up raids in NATO countries? It wants that angry reaction. It wants Europe's rejection of Muslim refugees. It wants Muslims to feel they have no hope in a world dominated by the U.S. and other western powers.

He's right that the current relationship between Russia and the US will turn out to be disastrous for both of them. But to say that he will impose a settlement between the two that is 'great' for the U.S. clearly suggests that Russia would be the loser in the deal. Well, I understand the Kremlim has access to TV as well as we do. This is a very flimsy speech to base a policy on.
Gee! The U.S. has combat troops in Iraq who are actually in combat. They're in Iraq and Syria.  Now think, Canada. We have combat troops in Syria that our government insists are non-combat - except that they might be in combat. Thank Justin for that big step into the military swamp that is the middle east.

Oh, and American combat troops in Iraq are not likely to be greeted by maidens tossing flowers. The remember the invasion of Iraq and the civilian death count very well. Any movement of U.S.  troops in Iraq is a post-mortem victory for bin Laden.
This is from a Russian news agency. But the source is Ernst&Young, a reputable American firm. Note the position of Ukraine, the country supposedly democratic as a result of western intervention.
The next one looks bad for Obama. But it's not his fault. The U.S. is a  falling empire. Get used to it.
Oh, there's also a story that the U.S. is raising its military aid to  Israel from 3 billion for 4 or 4.5 billion. This is more important than it may look
1. A U.S. which cannot feed its own hungry can spare 4 billion or more for weapons for Israel.

2. Much of that money will go to U.S. war industries - which means there will be a good deal of corruption here.

3. The U.S. is giving all this to an Israel which has openly been stealing Palestinian land,  withholding money that should be going to Palestine, cutting off Palestine from the world by blockading the Palestine coast, making the passage of medical supplies and  food to Palestine almost impossible, refusing to allow Israeli-Palestinians to walk on "Jewish" streets in the cities, expelling Israeli-Palestinians (and those in Palestine) from their homes, tearing down their homes, segregating public transit, pushing Palestinians into eternal poverty and hopelessness, and completely ignoring all U.S. requests to ease up.

It has made Israelis hated by Muslims, and the U.S. hated for its complicity.
Osama bin Laden could not have planned it better. The U.S. has allowed itself to be sucked into a swamp. It  has also drawn in NATO countries like Britain, France, The Netherlands....and Canada. The plan that began with 9/11 is working like a charm.
Here's Paul Craig Roberts on Trump's foreign policy speech. I think he's even a little bit gentle on the speech. But he's quite right about the massive power of the Senate to overrule any president and, if anything, understated about various parts of Washington who run their own shows  without paying much attention to any president, and still others who kill and who support strange groups in many countries without the president even knowing about it.

On of the greatest problems of the U.S. is that it has so many agencies - FBI, CIA, and on and on - designed to control people in the U.S. and abroad that the president cannot control them, and commonly does not even know what they are doing.

But I think Roberts is wrong to suggest that if Trump is elected, the public will simply become disillusioned. I don't think so. I think it's more likely to become violent.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 28: Journalism 101

It's a standard practice that the banner headline for Section A of a newspaper deals with the major story of the day. And the major story of today is - wait for it - a new middle school is to be built in Dieppe.

There was actually another and bigger story. So I checked the lead headline for Canada &World to find it. "Minister says province may review rules for prosthetic eye coverage."  No, that didn't seem to be it. Then I found it on B3. "Study: Canada won't meet international climate vows."

These are the vows made to reduce emissions by 80% over the next 29 years. Well, we didn't meet the standards on the last go-around. So this was almost predictable. But there's an even bigger problem. We may not have 29  years.
A recent commentary in this very same Irving press revealed that climate change does not happen at a steady pace. As well, we are rapidly approaching a point at which it goes on no matter what we do. I think that may be more important than a middle school in Dieppe or even eye surgery.

This is information that Justin Trudeau must have had when he signed the Paris Agreement. Eventually, we may realize that Mr. Trudeau's specialty is not public policy. It's public relations.

The editorial writer, always alert to the great issues of the day, has a column of pure gush about the opening of the events centre which will take place two years from now.

Norbert Cunningham offers us an almost incoherent rant   about people who are opposed to the centre. And it has all the stock lines like "Moncton punches above its weight".  Then he gushes over a business group which is contributing money. Two things, Norbie. One - this isn't like your daily photos of people smiling and holding up big cheques. When businessmen promise big money like this, there's a reason. He gives the reason, but doesn't seem to understand it. It has to do with what they own or are interested in - hotels and other property develpment. He also says  something important but doesn't recognize its importance. He says they work closely with city hall.

I'll just bet they do.

Oh, and in their praise, he says they are using their own money, not taxpayers' money. Norbert, we all use the same kind of money. And all money has its source in the work we ALL do. There is no difference between taxpayers' money and businessmen's money. And, anyway, that 'gift they'll be giving is tax deductable. Right? So - as a result, who will have to pay most of it in higher taxes or reduced services?

Rod Allen has a long column, seemingly designed to show how many words he knows. To get the whole (and very tiny) story without the agony of reading the column, just read the second to last paragraph.

Justin Ryan had a good idea for a column. Unfortunately, the first half and more is in the style of Rod Allan. What he writes about, usually, and writes well, is the work he does in settling immigrants in New Brunswick. But by the time he got to the topic for today, he didn't have enough room left to say anything.

Alec Bruce has a solid column on free tuition for universities. One, little suggestion, though. He says our financial situation doesn't premit us to finance free tuition for all. Gee,  could that have anything to do with the wealthy paying less tax than they should?
Canada&World is,  as usual, mostly trivial, and with almost nothing about the world. But it's better than usual - with four stories worth a read. "Edmundston passes mostion opposing pipeline route", "Canada won't meet international climate vows", "Canada breaking its own export control rules with Saudi deal", and the war in Syria is on again as the peace talks fail.
I rarely watch TV news because I've learned that TV is a very bad medium for anything that requires thinking. But last night, while channel hopping after watching Thomas the Tank Engine, I  caught a news story that wealthy Canadians have at least a TRILLION dollars invested in other countries - mostly to take advantage of cheap labour, no regulation, and almost no taxes. That's in addition to the money in tax havens.

And, no, Norbert. It's not THEIR money. It's the same money we use (or can't use because it's hidden.)

Corporations don't exist to create jobs or to benefit any nation. They exist to make money for themselves and to pay back as little as possible in salaries to as few people as possible,  and to avoid  taxes. If corporations created jobs to help people or nations, Haiti would today be one of the wealthiest countries in the world. So would Congo.
The next, two items were sent to me by a reader.

Recently, the U.S. government was very upset when Russian aircraft made passes close to an American warship. How aggressive!  They were doubly upset because the Russians were able to block all the ships fighting capacities so that it could not fire either guns or missiles. But our news never said why the American ship was so close to Russian waters, and why it was patrolling.

The American ship carried missiles - including nuclear ones. Now, think about that. The U.S. routinely uses nuclear armed ships and submarines in position for an unstoppable nuclear attack on Russian (and Chinese?) territory. How's that for aggression? How's that for looking for a war?

It also has troops near the Russian border doing "training".

What is the whole story on this? I have no special insights. But here's what I think is happening.

The American empire is well into collapse. In its desperation, it has to knock out its major competition. It wants a war with Russia and China. But it cannot win a conventional war with either without a monstrous cost in lives and money. And the American people would never tolerate that. This would be much, much greater than the opposition to Vietnam. As well, any such war would be certain to go nuclear, anyway.

No. It needs a war on the cheap and quick. It needs a nuclear war; and it needs one that might be ended quickly and with limited retaliation. Nuclear weapons fired from a ships and submarines just offshore might do it. It's risky - to say the least. But the business leaders of the U.S. are desperate. And this would be, like most wars, a business war. It's remarkably callous, dangerous for both sides, cruel, even insane, and with very little control over the consequences. But, what the hell! The empire is collapsing anyway. (No Donald. America will not be great again - whatever that means.)

Time is passing. And the American empre is passing with it.

The buzzing by Russian aircraft was a warning. "Don't even think about it! We can paralyze your attack."
And then there's one of my favourite commentators...

With the fall of Empire, there is also a social collapse happening in the U.S. The only candidate talking about it  (gently) is Sanders. Apart from Sanders, this is the only election I have known in Canada or the U.S. in which only one candidate has a policy on anything. The others are just playing with crowd emotions.

The  empire is falling.

You think leaders of big business are too intelligent to demand policies that are dangerous to the whole of humanity? Read this.

Heard much from the Irvings on the need to control carbon emissions? To control the use of herbicides in our forests?   To demand full payment of taxes? Do you think the rentarev at the Irving Chapel raises these issues in his sermons?
This can be an interesting site. The problem is that so much of it deals with regions and issues  unfamiliar to us. It takes a lot of going down the list to see that you want to read.
In the U.S., police have killed 329 Americans in just four months. That's maintaining the rate at 4,000 a year or more. That's more Americans, far more, than have been killed by terrorists since 9/11. Maybe some of those domestic spies should be checking out the police.

Here's a sample case.
And, ain't it always like this? Here's a story that comes too late for me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 27:

This is an interesting opinion piece from CBC news.

It caught me eye on several points. One was the unique way of presenting the case. Another was the irony of the style.

The reference to premier Notley who wants to keep pumping oil because it, duh, creates jobs, is a painful reminder of how far the NDP has fallen in priorities and basic intelligence.  (Why did she remind me of Cardy?)

Finally, it reminded me of the utter failure of Moncton city councils to prepare for the future. It is extremely expensive to build a city as if it were a suburban development based on the automobile. And that remains true even if we all switch to electric cars.

There are those long roads to be paved and ploughed and repaired, endless stretches of electrical wire and water and sewage lines. We need denser population - which would also make public transit far, far easier, cheaper, and more convenient.

But the city has given no thought to that whatever. And it's the same at the provincial and federal levels. I recently read the argument that Canada would benefit from climate change, and become warmer. And it would, therefore, sustain a larger population.

Cute. But it's more complex than that. What would happen to plant, animal, and fish species, for example? An environment depends on the interaction of all those.

 Then there are the hundreds of millions, maybe more, who will be (and have already begun) looking for homes that can sustain life. Just to look at the easy part of it - millions will be from the southern U.S., and they will head to Canada. Do you seriously believe that the U.S. and its big business would simply allow all of those people to  come here and make Canada more independent?

There can be no such hope. In such a case, the U.S. will annex, for example, Canada's fresh water to revive some of the south. If necessary, it would annex Canada as a part of the U.S. And that's not even counting the many millions more refugees from all over the world that we would see.

As for Trudeau and his signing of the Paris agreement, it's not possible to believe him. He has shown no great enthusiasm for tackling climate change. As well, he must know that the agreement is based on estimates of time that we probably don't have. Canada and the U.S. have not, to put it kindly, been world leaders on the issue of climate change. And there's no evidence that Trudeau is different from Harper on this.

Gosh, if it weren't for the Irvings, I don't know where we'd turn for leadership on this. Their tireless efforts on behalf of the environment suggest we need another and bigger hall of fame for them.
Two interesting headlines on A1. The big one is that Downtown Moncton Centre-Ville, an organization of businessmen, will put $250,000 a year into the events centre. The other is that food banks across New Brunswick are struggling to find fresh food and cold storage for the many who go hungry. But don't worry.
B4 has big photos of donors holding up big cheques for   worthy causes. And most of the photos have words like Costco, Via, TD so we'll know which companies to give credit to for money that was actually raised by their employees.
The editorial deals with the burning issue of the day. The library will be open on Sundays.

Norbert raises a point that is almost interesting. He says that some funding of political parties comes out of us as tax revenue. Well, in fact, ALL such funding comes from us -  whether in taxes or in union dues or in corporate donations. The only source of money is us, whether through taxes or corporate profits or political hanky-panky.

We need to do something about it because so much of our money ends up in the pockets of billionaires that political  parties who aren't good to billionaires can't get much in the way of election funds. Norbert is right. We need a solution to this. But giving us all a say in how the parties are run ain't it.

We get our say when we vote. If we all got our saying in running the parties, then we'd only need one party. And we already have a one-party system. We just call it by two names - Liberal or Conservative.

Brian Cormier still has nothing to say.

Then there's a bizarre commentary by a honcho at the Atlantic Market Studies  propaganda house. The picture suggests the commentary is about the events centre. But it isn't. Most of the commentary says it's about the budget. But it isn't the budget, either.
What it's really about is stated in three sentences of bold print. and again in a single sentence near the end.We should push for the Energy East Pipeline.
There is no evidence connecting this statement to anything - and certainly nothing to connect it with the rest of the commentary. And nothing to connect the pipeline to anything. And the concluding paragraphs don't relate to anything at all.

In a first year university course, I would have given this an F. But I doubt whether the writer is all that dumb. This is a commentary written with the low level of reading skills in this province in mind. This is for readers who will not notice that most of the commentary has nothing to do with his main point. It's for readers who will take away only the message in thick print - we must push hard for the pipeline.

Alec Bruce has another 'feel good' column. He makes the point that Moncton is a good  city for business. No doubt. But that might have something to do with the fact that it's not such a good city for people.
The only news in Canada&World is "Enbridge Gas could walk away from New Brunswick, official says." Walk away? Hey! We can't allow that. Put me down to give them a lift.

Otherwise, the best page is the one of those people holding up big cheques with their employer logos prominently on display.
For centuries we have built and are still  building a class that has piled up wealth through plundering other countries, and driving them into misery. That's why China distrusts us. That's why Latin America is being destroyed. That's why Africa has been driven into a hell of confusion,  poverty, and child labour. And some of this is revealved in the Panama Papers - which the Irving press lost interest in within a day.
This takes us off the usual track. But it's interesting. How often have you heard or read of the importance of Christian traditions (or culture, to tart it up a bit) to the Canadian people? In fact, that has not been true for a very long time.
It may have been true - in form if not in practice - through the nineteenth century. But that was in a rural or small town Canada when    everybody in a district knew everybody else, and pressures for conformity were strong.

Things were different in the cities. Neighbours often knew nothing of each other. And you can see the numbers in church attendance drop as the social pressure to conform dropped. There was more to it than that. But the drop in social pressure was an important factor.

Now, we really aren't a Christian nation. And, certainly, Christianity does not seem to be a guiding principle for our leading figures in politics and business.
And here's another case of a word rarely mentioned by journalists; but this word names the dominant force in our daily lives. And it has no connection with any religion I ever heard of.
I have just discovered this speech by Stephen Lewis. He is quite an outstanding speaker.

This one is at the recent NDP convention, and he states the case for the NDP's Leap Forward as the starting point for debate on climate change. So far, I have seen nothing in the Irving press to suggest support for any such debate.
There are problems that we have to deal with - and soon - like climate change, disintegrating nations, the pressure for war as the 'final solution'. Only a fool would be believe these can be solved within the 'capitalist' system we have. In fact, capitalism is why we have these problems.

But have you ever heard of the Irvings or the Koch brothers speaking of those problems in an intelligent way? Forget the   'intelligent way' part. Have you ever heard of them speaking of them at all?

People like these have become the real leaders of our societies. But it's a leadership determined by birth,  wealth and personal greed, and a leadership supported by that massive propaganda machine we call the private news media. The reality that we face is quite different. And the American leadership campaigns are a good example of it.

With the exception of Sanders, nobody in these races has shown any moral consciousness. Think over that campaign. We are not seeing a vision of a new and better America. We are not even seeing a rational political debate. What we are watching is the social collapse of the United States.

P.S. Exactly what does "Make America Great Again" mean? Invading more countries? Establishing more dictatorships? Exploiting more people, including Americans? Kicking out Mexicans?