Saturday, April 25, 2015

April 25: Good for Brent Mazerolle

"All Moncton schools to go under review".  That's the headline on A1. And, like every such report I've seen in this province, it's all about costs and efficiency as if education were a sort of assembly line. Everything gets treated as it were a business. But education is not a business. It's about people.  It's about giving people opportunity. It's about stimulating minds. It's about the future of this province. It's about families. It's about the very different needs of many students and many families. I have yet to see the slightest consideration given to any of this.

This government is simply about money and, more particularly, about slashing budgets. That shows weak thinking about education, and very weak thinking about economics. Nor have I seen any signs of human intelligence on this coming from the government, the ministry of education, or the anglophone east school board.

And has it not occurred to anyone there is a crying need for adult education in this province? This a gap that cannot be filled by volunteers. And it's a desperate need in a province that seems to create illiterates. The people aren't stupid. So when you see illiteracy and low literacy races in such a province, it indicates a serious social problem. Of course, if the province were literate and thinking, it would be impossible to sell copies of the Times and Transcript.

 The rest of the news in section A is the usual bubblegum.
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The editorial is its usual, empty self. It could have all been said in four words. "Moncton will rise again" or, possibly, "Something must be done." Very inspiring.

Norbert starts well with criticism of the provincial government as being hypocritical.  But didn't Norbert notice that in the Conservatives? Then, in kindness, he says the government is inexperienced. Oh? Ten of its cabinet ministers were in the last, Liberal government just four years ago. This is not a cabinet of giggling virgins.

And,of course, Norbert says they must slash size and cost of the civil service because, you know, only private businessmen know how to do things. Norbert, have you never had the brains or the courage to demand we slash the cost of private business to this province? Particularly very big, private business?

Have you never looked at the staggering salaries and bonuses and perqs  for executives and for board members who do nothing much at all? That's our money, Norbert, sucked out of our economy by people who are too greedy to pay taxes, and people to whom you kiss up every day.  It's not a secret, Norbert. It's part of a massive redistribution of wealth that's been going on all over the world. And that's OUR money that's being redistributed. We have to make ourselves poor, we have to deny our children proper education, we have to deny services we need so the Irvings can put the extra money in their offshore bank accounts - and then occasionally flip a coin to us, and get a big story in your paper about how generous they are.                          
The Irvings did not make us rich, Norbert. On the contrary, we made them rich and made ourselves poor in doing it. Someday, Norbert, have the nerve to look where you have never looked, and say what you have never said. And then you'll be a man, my son.

I have often been critical of Brent Mazerolle for writing some pretty trivial stuff. But I remember, once, not long ago, when I mentioned there was real talent hidden in him.  And in today's commentary, he didn't hide it at all. This is about the use of drones - and it's well-written, thoughtful. This is what Brent can really do - and it's first rate.

Well, I have a small point of disagreement. He says terrorists hate us because of our way of life. In the whole history of warfare, I cannot recall a single war that started because one group hated another group's way of life.  Nor, for that matter, do I know what our way of life means.  What does 'our' mean? Is my way of life the same as the Irvings? Is it the same as that of a black kid in the ruins of Detroit? Is it the same as a single mother working for minimum wage?

No. We are hated by some people because we've been killing them. (Well, some people are touchy about that).  We've killed men, women and children by the millions. We've killed them to steal their oil.

Or now I think of it, maybe Brent is right. For five centuries, our way of life has been killing people by the tens of millions to steal their land and resources. Yeah. Maybe they do  hate us because they hate our way of life.

And Bill Belliveau does a solid job on the bunkum that Harper calls a budget.

The other "commentary" is a sample of the Irving press' distasteful use of commentary space as a free ad for politicians - in this case. premier Gallant. The premier, as one might expect, has nothing to say.
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Canada&World actually had a world story on its first page. "Armenia marks centennial of killing of 1.5 million by Ottoman empire". So that gives us two genocides to remember. Right?

Wrong.

Genocide means the killing of people solely because of a race (whatever that means) they supposedly belong to. So, let's see -
1. Armenians
2, Jews.
3.native peoples in the Americas (perhaps the largest genocide in history).
4. genocide of millions and slavery of million of Africans in the slave trade.
5.genocide of people in Congo by Belgium and continued by other countries to this day.
6.Genocide of Vietnamese by France and the US. (These were not just wars. They included the deliberate killing of civilians and children because they were Vietnamese. That's genocide.)
7. Genocide of Iraqis - it's genocide for the reason given in 6.
8.Genocide by starvation of five million people of Ceylon by the British in World War 2.

The world has a long, long history of killing people for genocidal reasons. It's always been a common excuse for war because branding people as racially inferior serves as justification for killing them. Hitler did not invent genocide. Both Harper and Obama are now inciting hatred of Muslims, making them a quasi-race, and therefore justifying our killing of them.

There are a couple of quite disgusting Canadian stories on B3.

Bernard Valcourt, who is federal minister of aboriginal affairs, said, in effect, that native peoples were lazy so he was going to cut welfare to force them to get jobs. You bastard, Valcourt. These are people whose society we have destroyed. Kicking them out to create incentive won't work. These are humans. They have been raised in a society that has never had a chance to repair and adjust to what has been done to them. And nothing Valcourt says suggests any such chance on the horizon. These are people. And Valcourt, the man most responsible for them has not done a thing to deal with the problems they face. Instead, he has just classed them as bums.

Hint, Valcourt. Hire some people with some brains to handle what is going to be a long, long job of re-socializing. And cover the cost of it by getting the money from all your pet corporate welfare bums.

Here in New Brunswick, Education Minister Rouselle is cutting a subsidy to daycare owners which will either force them out of business or force them to raise fees for people who really cannot afford the raise.
According to Rouselle, this makes sense because they are businesses, and should expect to stand on their own as businesses.
1. They are not simply businesses. The people most affected by this cut will be real people, children and parents. Again, we have a politician who sees the whole world as though it were just a big business. It's not. It's people. It's societies. And this decision is damaging to both.
2. And where did he get the idea that businesses stand on their own? On the contrary, they depend heavily on 'subsidies' in the form of tax breaks, on public services like roads and railways and electricity and, if they're big enough, on outright gifts of millions of dollars, sweetheart contracts, and on international trade deals set up by those civil servants that Norbert finds so hateful.
It's dismaying to learn we have an education minister who seems to have large gaps in his own education - and no sense of what people are and what they need.

On B7, American General Petraeus, former head of the CIA, was found guilty of passing state secrets to his mistress. Gee. I guess the poor guy didn't know that was illegal. I mean, if you can't trust your mistress, who can you trust?

So he got hit hard by the courts - two years free on probation, and a fine of $100,000. But don't worry. He can still look forward to a secure retirement with this wife - or his mistress, or both. He makes well over a hundred thousand just for giving one speech.

Compare that to the treatment people who leak secrets out of their principled belief that people in a free country should know these things. They have to flee the country, go into hiding for years or seek refuge in other countries, live in fear of kidnapping or execution and, if brought back the to the US, would face life imprisonment.

On B8, take a look at the picture of a village bombed by the Saudis. Then look at paragraph 1 of the story, where it says that Saudi bombing has killed 500 civilians, including 115 children. This is a very poor country. It has been censured by the UN for kicking out the man who was its dictator for 22 years. Using that censure, the king of Saudi Arabia, with massive US weapon supplies and with the support of US ships offshore, bombed Yemen (which the US has been drone-bombing, anyway, for  years and killing thousands.)

So, the freedom-loving US is helping to kill the people of Yemen in order to bring back a dictator to that country.  And dictator-loving Saudi Arabia, has been killing them for the same reason. That's not only odd in itself. It's super-odd because in its whole history, Saudi Arabia has never shown any interest in helping anybody.

The heart-warming story is that the men who bombed and killed those people are getting a gift from one of the many princes of Saudi Arabia.  Yes, for killing defenceless and impoverished people, the 200 pilots will each receive a Bentley.(actually a Rolls-Royce for people who are too modest to be seen in an RR.)

I really don't know why two wealthy powers are attacking and killing the people of an impoverished country.
General Petraeus might know. But I really don't want to get into bed with him.

Then read the story above it on B8. It's about refugees from the middle east and Africa, mostly going to Sicily as the nearest haven. If you read anti-Muslim propaganda sites like Black Flag, they're are really terrorists. In reality, most are hungry, scared, desperate for some sort of security. But they first have to wait in concentration camps in Italy. They wait - men, women, and children - for two to three years in terrible and hungry conditions. There are now 63,000 in Italian camps and prisons.

When they do get out to disperse across Europe, they're not welcome. They have become Europe's new Jews. Europeans are now being encouraged by their leaders and their news media to hate and fear the newcomers, just as they were for centuries taught to hate and fear Jews. We are re-creating the Europe that cheered for Hitler (and not just in Germany; it was very widespread).

Nobody knows what the real numbers for refugees are. Many avoided the detention camps, and moved on to other countries. And we have no idea how many died on the way.

Who created this disaster? Mostly it was Britain and the US with their oil wars of public and private slaughters in the middle east and Africa, their destruction of existing societies, and their conversion of the whole area into a hell on earth. And they're still doing it. It's vicious ;it's pure greed; and it's wildly irresponsible. We're not going to see peace and stability again for a very, very long time. if ever... This is a side effect of the collapse of American democracy as the very, very wealthy got complete control over government. It happened in the US. It's happening in Canada. It's happened in New Brunswick.

And neither Canada (which is still killing people in Iraq and Syria) nor the US has accepted any responsibility or offered any significant help - just like the 1930s. And the result, as in the 30s, is likely to be serious disorder in Europe, and a new rise of fascism and racism.

All of this is the result of a capitalism allowed to run wild all over the world, and  the intervention, all over the world, of billionaires who think that being born rich gives them a talent and a right to rule over all of us. This dreadful mess is the creation of the arrogant fools that they are..
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http://commondreams.org/news/2015/04/23/fracking-induced-earthquakes-highlighted-new-usgs-map

The is an item sent to me by a reader. It's a photo with text about the effects of shale gas drilling - you know, the type of drilling that years of experience has shown us is perfectly safe. This one is about the spectacular rate of earthquakes due to shale gas drilling in a part of the US. From zero, the number has risen to several hundred a year, with 800 in sight.

(Oh, I know. They aren't really big earthquakes. True. But they are earthquakes, and that  many of them has effects on water flows, etc. that we don't know anything about.  But don't worry. Gallant will find a comfortable reason to approve of shale gas drilling. After all, he's in the long, New Brunswick tradition of puppet premiers - and he's a young lawyer on the make.)

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41674.htm
I can't vouch for the writer of this piece or for the group he represents (Independent Jewish Voices - Canada). I can't vouch for it because all my Jewish friends are in a different group - Peace Now.

However, I know the article is not an exaggeration, and it makes sense in the light of  statements Harper has made. Jewish groups who want peace and  cooperation with Palestine are, I know, under constant attack from the Israeli lobby which has taken control of community organizations which once did good work, like B'Nai Brith, and turned them into propaganda fronts.

One of the fronts is a weekly newspaper, The Cote St. Luc Suburban, whose editor is a very active propagandist. I lived most of my life in Montreal's Jewish community (and got turned down by many a girl because I was a goy. That means male gentile). Of some thousands of public talks I gave, over half were to Jewish audiences. My closest friends in Montreal were - and are - Jews.

But I became critical of the Israeli government. So Beryl attacked me on a web site as an anti-semite. The Israeli lobby is well-financed, well-connected, and quite ruthless. The claim in this article that Bill C-51 is partly intended to make it a crime to criticize Israel is quite possible. And I have heard Beryl speak in favour of such a position.

In reality, Harper has never done anything for Israel but talk big. Nor does Canada have any international standing worth talking about. We once did. But everybody today knows Canadian governments are puppets. However, Harper does need the Canadian Jewish vote's help, and he does need the help of the Israeli lobby to get that. And, as we all should know by now, he has no respect for democracy. So it would make sense for him to use such a bill as C-51 to forbid criticism of the Israeli government.

I suspect one of the reasons Obama dislikes Harper is because the US is the country that built and protects Israel even as Israel attacks and blocks American policy. And Harper gets all the cheers for doing nothing, but talking big.

Friday, April 24, 2015

April 24: why we ain't real smart...

In 25 years of radio, TV and print media, I was never once asked to cover or comment on a hockey game.  I guess that just makes sense. I mean, I might sound silly if I complained they were playing without a ball, or that the basket was too low for a jump shot. In the news media, only people who know the game are assigned to cover sports.

In all those years, though, I was often interviewed or appeared in discussion groups with journalists on education issues. Never, in all that time, did I encounter a journalist who had a clue about education. Only once was I interviewed by a reporter who was actually assigned to the education beat. And it was obvious from the start that she knew nothing about it.

Couple that problem with newspapers run on the cheap, like Irving press, which have so few reporters that they not only don't have any specialization, but don't have the manpower to study any story in depth, to do investigative reporting. For an example of the result, see A1 of the Times and Transcript "Province to cut 302 education positions".

This is a shallow and useless story which relies heavily on the government version of why it is cutting education spending. This is not the reporter's fault.He is not an expert on education. Assigning him to cover an education story is like assigning me to cover a hockey game. To make it worse, he isn't given the time to ask questions, to do some digging. And the Irving newspapers are almost entirely made up of stories like this.

Partly, that's because the Irving press is a private business. And, like all private business it is not in business to keep us informed or to create jobs. It's there to make as much money as it can while giving back as little as it can.

But education is important - maybe not as important as a hockey game or an events centre; but still important to children, to adults, and to the future of this province. So what will be the effects of cutting 302 positions be? What will be the effects from closing schools? Exactly what is an effective class size? (How large are classes in the private school the Irving children go to? ) What will happen to children with special needs? How will communities be affected?

The story justifies the cuts by saying that they, as a percentage, are lower than the  percentage of students we lost since fifteen years ago. What the hell is that supposed to tell us? What is an effective ratio of students to teachers? Maybe we were way understaffed 15 years ago, and now have the right ratio. But that takes a bit of investigation to figure out..

Then we're told the government is saving money by cutting $250 per teacher for teaching supplies. What supplies are being cut? How will that affect the classroom? How will it affect the students? I have never heard of an education system so cheap it had to cut off classroom supplies. Do the Irving children go to schools that have no classroom supplies? Don't our children have the right to education that the children of the rich do?

We are told that a Conservative MLA. Gary Crosman, was pleased to learn that not ALL cuts would be at the school level. He is described as a former teacher, school administrator, and education council member.
I know the type well. So I can understand why he got promoted from  being a teacher to a school administrator and then education council member.

I see no sign in this story that either the education minister or premier Gallant has given the slightest attention to the effects of these costs. Nor is there the slightest sign that they have any concept of what education is about or any thoughts about new approaches to the whole question. And New Brunswick is a province that desperately needs some  new thinking. It has good teachers. What it desperately needs is someone in government with a brain, and newspapers that inform the general public so it knows what's going on.

It will not affect the Irvings, of course, since their children go to private schools But there is a danger for all of us in that.

Modern public schooling originated in Scotland - and it led to an explosion of Scottish talent in the Sciences and Arts - one of the greatest such explosions in history  so that tiny Scotland has played a major part in the development of our modern world. In Quebec, I attended the English-Protestant schools which were based on the Scottish system, and were excellent. That was because the wealthier Scots who dominated Quebec business up to the 1970s had a stake in the schools. Their own children went to them. My high school graduated a son of one of Montreal's richest families and, about the same time, the son of one of its poorest families - Christopher Plummer and Oscar Peterson. We all had a chance.

The French Catholic public schools of the time were designed for the poor. For most children, it effectively ended at grade nine - if that long. The teachers were the cheapest available, and the curriculum heavy on religion. The wealthier French Catholics who sat on school boards wanted it that way because it kept their taxes down. And it didn't hurt them in any way because their own children, like Justin Trudeau, went to elite private schools. It is no coincidence that almost every premier in the history of Quebec has been a graduate of private schooling. (Levesque went to a private school, but never graduated from it.)

We're seeing the development of something similar in New Brunswick, with the rich getting private schooling for their own children, but seeing public education only as a place to save tax money - and, perhaps - to be privatized for profit. It's already happened in the US where  those who can afford it pretty well have to send their children to semi-privatized schools, while most children are left to founder in public schools that are overcrowded, in bad repair, often dangerous, and badly equipped. The result is that the US now is rated as having one of the worse education systems in the developed world. New Brunswick is going the same way.

But I'm so happy the Irving children will be in nice schools.


This is a 'news' story that tells us nothing, and comes from people who know nothing. It's a remarkably incompetent piece of journalism - not because of the reporter but because the ownership and management of the worst daily newspapers I have ever seen - with the possible exception of the New China News Agency.

Page 8 has a bigger story than the education one on a wrestling show of the cornball type that's coming to Moncton. The whole story is really just an ad..
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The editorial is quite decent. The first time, I think, I've seen a decent one in the Irving press.

There's a big push coming for the events centre. Norbert Cunningham's column is, I suspect, the opening popgun for it. Most of it is vague and without evidence or argument. But, he says, we must spend much more than a hundred million on it because we need a centre that will be one of the wonders of the modern world - like the Eiffel Tower.

(Okay, I guess. But tough skating.)

There's a more intelligent letter to the editor on the same subject.

On the commentary page, Cole Hobson also has a pitch for the events centre, so I guess the big push has really started.. Most of it is pretty vague. And it would have been wiser for him to leave out  paragraph 7 in which he tells us that the Coliseum did NOT sell out for the the recent Wildcats' Game 7 for the title. And that was even counting all the Halifax fans who came up for the game. I've never heard of such a game not selling out.

Alec Bruce makes the good point that the Gallant government is not to be trusted on the research team it put together to study the effects of shale gas development. But that leads him to support acceptance of the research sponsored by Alward. I see no possible reason to trust either government on this. Let's get real.
Irving owns both the Liberals and the Conservatives. Whatever the search process is, we will never get an honest report from either party. Alec Bruce must know that.
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In section B1, the province is asking private business to run some hospital services. Why? They say it will make it more efficient. Why? Damned if I know. Privatizing usually means the service will either be worse AND will cost more. The US has all its hospital services privatized - and it's a hugely expensive disaster. There is no reason to believe that private business is more efficient than government. That's myth that business has spread through the news media it owns.

Then there's a fascinating world story on B4 about how Obama has apologized for a drone strike that killed two hostages being held by Al Quaeda. He did not mention that, over the years, the US has daily been bombing many countries with drones with the result that thousands have been killed.

We also know that many, perhaps a majority, of those killed have been civilians including children. So how come we don't demand the figures? How come our news media don't even mention them? How come Obama doesn't apologize for killing all the other innocent ones?
1. Because Obama is a bigot who doesn't care how innocent or young the murdered might be as long as they're, you know, different from us.
2. He doesn't have to apologize to most Americans for the reason cited in 1.
3. He doesn't have to apologize to Canadians or the western world for the reason cited in 1 and 2..

Apart from those two stories, there's nothing in News&World.
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But, if nothing's happening in News&World, lots is happening in the real world.

For a start, the bizarre confrontation between Iranian cargo ships (supposedly carrying arms to Yemen) and the American navy seems to have been called off. But one wonders why the US navy made it such a big deal in the first place.

The US sent 8 warships to block the cargo ships, 8 ships were very modern, very fast, and very heavily armed. And they were topped off with the nearly 100,000 ton aircraft carrier, USS George Washington with its high speed and its 90 or so aircraft.

All of that was sent to stop seven cargo ships plodding along, at best, at half the speed of the US ships. There are escorted by armed Iranian warships. Two of them. But Iran's navy has been tiny and poorly armed for thousands of years. So I checked google to see what Iran could possibly have sent to counter state of the art warships with missiles and the world's biggest warship.( The US also has more warships along the coast of Yemen.)

What Iran sent is an aging frigate (a small ship with a weak armament) - and a landing craft (of no sea combat ability whatever.) Talk about using a sledgehammer to swat a fly! Just one of the missile cruisers could have done the job in minutes, and with no risk whatever to itself. So why send that massive force?

In that same time period, Saudi Arabia stopped its bombing of Yemen. Why? In fact, the bombing of Yemen had not, till then, achieved much. If the Saudis expected to win, they had to keep up the bombing - and they had to add a ground attack. Why have they just stopped the bombing?

I certainly don't have the answer to any of those questions. But I get nervous when the US suddenly gathers such a powerful naval force within reach of Iran, and when the King of Saudi Arabia suddenly becomes a good guy and stops bombing. One gets the feeling that another power (maybe two or three)  was coming into play here.

The Irving press also fails to mention Greece which is in very serious economic trouble. The international bankers who hold the Greek debt want their money, no matter if that destroys the people of Greece. They insist (like the owners of New Brunswick) that it maintain an austerity budget, and cut back on "frills" - like public education and hospitals.

The Prime Minister of Greece has tried it. He says that it doesn't work. It just causes suffering. Of course that's what it does. That's why the depression of the 1930s went on so long. The bankers don't care. They just want their money. The same thing is happening in Ukraine - but the Irving press doesn't mention that, either. It is quite possible we may see another civil war in Ukraine, this time in the western section governed from Kyiv.

In general, the very rich are robbing the whole world. That's what the wage gap is all about. There is a massive redistribution off wealth to the very, very rich from all the rest of us. And austerity budgets don't work. Franklin Roosevelt learned that in the great depression. So did Canadian prime ministers Bennett and Mackenzie-King. It is not possible to make any country rich again by making most of its people poor.

In that great depression, it was not big business that saved us. It was government. It was government that created jobs and that controlled the greed of big business. What has happened now is that big business, itself, has become the government. That's why the wage spread is out of control. Business cannot run a nation..It has no competence whatever to do so. But it does run our nations. That's why so many in Latin America and Ukraine and Africa and the Middle East and, yes, North America are now suffering. That's why the news media owned by the very rich are busily teaching us to fear and to hate  so will ignore them as the real problem, and send us into war after war - for them..

The very, very rich, in their greed, have never understood that creating poverty will, in the end, destroy them, too. And, certainly, premier Gallant has not understood anything. Nor has prime minister Harper.

That's why it's essential to start one's planning not with questions of money but with questions of what the society needs. Then, you also look at the very rich, and see if we can really afford all the money (and lives) we hand over to them - and the very, very little they ever contribute to the rest of us.






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Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 23: A very mixed bag...

On A1, "Fracking review terms released by Grits". The Liberal government has appointed a commission to examine any possible dangers in carrying out fracking. They don't tell us a whole lot. Apparently, the commission is to study the question in a 'New Brunswick context'.

What does that mean? I have no idea. Neither, I suspect, does anybody else. Nor would I ask because any reply is certain to be in more gobbledygook. Nor am I dazzled by the membership of the committee since it seems to be made up entirely with people of no significant scientific understanding. Then there's the other bit of the government's terms. The Committee must report on its evidence directly (only) to the cabinet. That means we will see only what the cabinet wants us to see.

Then, on A6, we find the two, hit stories of the day. One is a story, with photo, of the premier of Nova Scotia wearing a Moncton Wildcats hockey sweater because he lost a bet. Then there's another red hot story, with photo, that the maritime yo-yo championship is being held in nearby Salisbury, And you can be sure that anyone who works for the Irving press knows something about yo-yos.

There is yet another editorial on the closing of rural schools. And, once again, children and communities simply don't exist. This is the press that regularly beats the drum for an events centre to cost $105 million, probably closer the $200 million - a centre that is not likely ever to pay off. But, hey, the owner of the hockey team wants it. Duh.... Oh, I know. If the owner of the hockey team is so sure the centre would make a fortune, let him pay for it; and he can keep all the profits.

There's a good letter to the editor on the events centre, and it mentions something the Irving press has never told us. The city pays $88,000 every year to that team. Why are we paying that to a team that has a very wealthy owner? In fact, why are all of us being hit to pay a share of that money to a team that most of us never go to see? If Mr. Irving wants thrills, let him pay for them.

Norbert, again, writes about the events centre. But he's so vague as to be incoherent.

Rod Allen is back to his usual, overwritten column of painfully strained wit about himself.

David Suzuki has an excellent column on the damage caused by tiny bits of plastic in some toothpastes and skin softening lotions. Those tiny, tiny bits get into the food stream of fish and, eventually, of us - with fatal results. And this one is easy and cheap to fix. All if needs is to substitute those tiny bits of plastic with edible - and cheap - substitutes. And it needs governments with the integrity to demand that. (Okay. So it's not going to be easy to solve.)

Alec Bruce is excellent on that fraud of a budget the federal Conservatives  have introduced. This is an excellent read on how to understand a government budget.
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Then, there's a gem of a  headline on B1. "Irving Oil critical of Reuters story." It's a prime example how to hide the real news. A headline is, course course, written by the editor. But the editor's name is not on it. Well, if I were editor, I wouldn't want my name on it, either.

Reuters Press has discovered that the provincial department of environment has, since 1912, issued warnings to Irving Oil in St. John, for delaying reporting environmental emergencies, including large spillage of oil, and refinery emissions that exceeded permitted levels.

Of course, Irving oil is critical of the story. But that's not what the story is about. Surely, it's about the warnings which Reuters discovered through freedom of information. The story can and should contain Irving's reply. But the reply isn't the story. The warnings are the story. This is a classic use of a headline to mislead people about a news story. Almost all of this story is about the Irving response, and still leaves us in the dark about the incidents. This isn't a news story. This is whitewashing some unattractive asses; and it's unethical journalism.
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Oh , yeah - Early on, the story tells that that the Telegraph-Journal (also Irving) reported the incidents at the time. I"m sure it did. I'm also sure it didn't say much. That would explain why Reuters had to use the Freedom of Information Act to get a fuller story. If the T-J had covered the story, Reuters would have known. It's a big outfit. It has computers and everything. It would have taken just minutes to find the TJ story. But Reuters decided to go the freedom of information route. That tells you something about professional opinion of the quality of the Irving papers.

B3 has a story that the federal government's  spending of hundreds of millions of dollars will not solve our national security problems. True. They won't. But the story doesn't tell us why they won't.

Our security problems won't end for the same reasons the security problems of the US won't end. And no amount of spending will make them end. We have security problems because we  have governments controlled by oil billionaires. And the oil billionaires have killed Muslims by the millions, driven more millions of people into poverty, and destroyed whole nations. And some Muslims are shooting back.

Isn't that evil of them? Certainly, they aren't good Christians spreading peace and love like our oil billionaires.

You want to stop Muslims from trying to kill you?  Suggestion - stop trying to kill them.

These oil billionaires are the same reason we aren't getting any action on green energy. It's because they don't make money out of green energy. And they don't make money out of cutting back on fossil fuels. That's why Harper has the developed world's worst record for environmental action.

I don't worry about Muslims killing me. I'm much more likely to be killed by the behaviour of oil billionaires and the Harpers who kiss up to them.

B5 has a story from Associated Press and its airsrikes on Yemeni rebels. As usual, it gives us lots of detail about nothing. But paragraph four has a fascinating line in it. The attacks are aimed at restoring ''Yemen's internationally recognized president..."

Have you ever read a story about Harper or Obama or Putin being an internationally recognized leader of his country?  In fact, all leaders in the world are internationally recognized by most or all governments. The American dictators of Haiti and Cuba were internationally recognized. Adolf Hitler was intenationally recognized. So what's that line supposed to tell us?

Directly, it tells us nothing whatever. But it's there because it sounds good. It sounds as if the exiled president is a person who deserves to be president - and the rebels are evil.

Actually, the president was a much-hated dictator of Yemen for some 20 years.- and a good friend of another "internationally recognized leader", the dictator-king of Saudi Arabia who, though a very, very extreme Muslim, and one fond of beheading, is very, very popular with our oil billionaires.

The rebellion in Yemen began many years ago as an uprising to create a democracy. But Saudi Arabia and the US don't like democracies That's why the Saudi's are attacking Yemen, and that's why the US is supplying the bombs. In fact, the US has been murdering Yemenis for years using drones and special ops killers.

The story also mentions, in the last, four paragraphs, that a US drone killed seven "suspected" al-Quaeda terrorists. "Suspected" means they really aren't sure who they killed. They've killed thousands like that in Yemen, Pakistan, etc. God bless America.

A few lines down, it describes them as militants. That doesn't mean they actually were militants. The term is commonly used in our news media to mean 'people of military age'.

The unasked question is - why has Saudi Arabia not sent in ground troops? After all, you can't win a war with air strikes. Saudi Arabia does have an elite corps of excellent and well-equipped troops. But it doesn't have nearly enough of them to fight a war. For the bulk of its army, it relies on contracted mercenaries - who have a limited value in battle.  Just as big business does not exist to create jobs and prosperity, so it is that mercenaries do not fight to risk their lives.

So why have the kings of Saudi Arabia never raised a national army? I suspect that's because they can't be sure which way it would shoot.
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On C4, student columnist, Aurelie Pare, has her usual, excellent column on dietary heath. Sometimes her columns on diet leave me feeling guilty about my food choices. But today, it's Vitamin D, and she advises lying in the sun a lot.

Hey! I can do that.
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There are, believe it or not, stories that the Irving press missed.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/safely-moving-oil-by-rail-requires-extraordinary-measures-experts-1.1387987    This one is a story about the spectacular rise of rail to transport crude oil. It has risen  to 140,000 carloads last year, and is  still rising rapidly..

The railwys say that, despite regulation, its very safe as almost all the trains get through. That will be cheering news for the folks in Lac Megantic. And maybe in Moncton.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/oxfam-warns-of-dangers-of-growing-inequality-1.2503661

85 people own half of all the wealth in the world. They also control their governments. And they are most unlikely to pay taxes - and that means most of that wealth is lost forever. The result - spreading poverty, lots of wars like the 'war on terror', 'defence of Ukrainian democracy', and the increasing danger of nuclear war.
(Their are so many people to hate these days, I can't keep up - Russians, Muslims, maybe Greeks, possibly Chinese. You, dear readers, and I (and the very rich) may be the only pure people left on earth.)

And the proportion of money held by just these 85 is half and rising quickly. And that doesn't even count the small timers like the Irvings.

https://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/en/blog/conservative-government%E2%80%99s-inequality-budget-hands-billions-wealthiest-families

This link, from a reader,  is about how the Canadian government's budget has handed out billions to the very wealthy - you know, the ones who don't pay much in the way of taxes.

https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/another-reason-to-resist-c-51

Also from a reader, this is a chilling account of how government spying has turned us into a police state.

http://nbmediacoop.org/2015/03/31/canadaland-live-in-fredericton-biting-the-hand-that-feeds-in-irvingland/

This, too, is from a reader. It's worth reading in itself; and it gives us a sample of what to expect in The Brief, from NBmediacoop. I find it always worth a read.

And, as I prepare for supper, a big story that Norbert missed because he follows only Irving news. You need all the stories on this one - so I'm sending you to google for the site that has all of them. (And this, by the way, is what is called investigative reporting - as compared to the Irving press' stenographic reporting.)

Go to google, type -  over billing CBC Irving    There's a whole page of them.

Discover why Norbert hates the CBC, and why Harper would like to close it.




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April 22: The Big Picture

There was a time when the greatest dream of North American women was to be swept up by an arab riding on a galloping, white steed that would take them far into the desert to his tent. The arab was such a symbol of wildly romantic love that in the 1920s and later, a handsome and well-dressed young man in North America was called a "sheikh".  Indeed, the most popular men's contraceptive into at least the 1960s carried the brand name Sheikh.

In 1921, the big, Hollywood hit starring heartthrob Rudolph Valentino was "The Sheikh".  And, in the same year, that gave rise to what may have been the longest running hit song in modern history. Decades later, when I was in high school, everybody still knew the song.

I'm the sheikh of Araby.
(can't remember this line)
At night when you're asleep
Into your tent I'll creep..

And adolescents all over North America spiced it up by adding to each line "With no pants on."

These romantic notions were heightened in World War One by the publicity given to Colonel Lawrence of the British army whose organization of Arab guerrilla forces to fight the Turks added tremendously to the air of romance and excitement. All that was heightened by very romantic account of his mysterious personality in a book called Lawrence of Arabia.. (It held me spellbound when I was ten.) Then, in 1962, there was the film with Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia, arguably the greatest  epic film ever made.

For the best part of a century, the West adored arabs. So what happened to make them turn into madmen and terrorists?

Well, that, too, began with Lawrence - in fact, even before him.

European interest in the middle east in modern times goes back at least to Napoleon. But it really took off when Britain saw it as the solution to shorten the sea distance for its huge trade with Asia. A canal through Egypt would do the trick. Thus the Suez Canal was begun about 1860.

But that canal was so important to British capitalists it was important that they control all of Egypt. So, though the Egyptian monarchy remained, it was the British who ruled Egypt through a High Commissioner. And that was the beginning of a pattern.

In World War One, the British, thanks to people like Lawrence of Arabia, took up a wider control of the middle east. This time, it was for oil. And, as in Egypt, they protected their interest in maintaining effective control of the oilfields by keeping obedient governments in power. As well, they freely created new nations as it suited them.

Shortly after the war, for example, the British created the state of Saudi Arabia,  placing it under a monarchy. And where did they find the monarch? Well, he was a leader of the desert bandits whom Lawrence had recruited. This made him useful to Britain which ensured that the oil industry, which gave little to  his country but which gave the king so much wealth that he was agreeable to doing what he was told.

The Saudi kings, by the way, were and are the most extreme Muslims in the world, the most severe dictatorship, and among the most brutal in the use of capital punishment. They're our friends.

The same was done with Iran, an arrangement that guaranteed British and then Americans access to oil at low cost and high profit. Despite the stories about how capitalism creates wealth for all of us, this was even less true in the middle east than it is in New Brunswick. The British even forced Iran to fuel the whole, Royal Navy for no charge at all for several decades. Capitalism exists to to take money, not to give it. And it took the money from the oil states without a thought for the needs of their people.

What the West, largely Britain and the US, created countries simply by drawing lines, permitted them only governments that were subservient, and made adjustment to the new world virtually impossible. They created, very suddenly, a new world with no history, and no hope for a future. That is the great mistake that now has us up to our ears in wars.

The Second World War weakened British power and control. It lost its compliant king of Egypt and then lost the Suez Canall. Iran chose a democratically elected government which had the dangerous idea that Iran oil belonged to the people of Iran, and should benefit them. So, for a cut of the oil, Britain got the US to help it overthrow the elected government, and install a dictator under whom Iran suffered for many years. Then Iran kicked him out, and elected its own government. The US has never forgiven Iran for that.

(The government overthrow of elected government by the US was also tried in Venezuela, and for the same reason - oil. The overthrow failed. So now Venezuela is in the gun sights. Funny how our news media have barely mentioned Venezuela - especially since Canada seems to have been involved in the overthrow attempt.)

It was probably the case of Iran that ended the years of "The Sheikh of Araby". From then on, people had to learn to hate and fear Arabs and Muslims in general. And so our news media began what is now a very sophisticated campaign to make us fear and hate. And what has followed has been years of wars against Arabs. There was the war the US paid Saddam Hussein to fight against Iran. Then they had to fight Hussein as he began to show signs of being indepdendent - and so they used lies to justify a particularly brutal war with enormous civilian casualties. The same has been true of Libya and Syria.

It's hard to say what the purpose of the current wars might be. US foreign policy has not, as it was supposed to, given the US world domination. It most certainly has not stopped Middle East unrest. It has also done the opposite of stopping terrorism. It has not brought democracy - as was once claimed. In fact, it destroyed the brief democracy that Egypt had by installing the army back in power. That's why we've lately seen pictures of the last, elected leader of Egypt, Morsi, in prison.

My guess is the objective in the Middle East now is simply to destroy, to so shatter almost every society in the region so it can no longer function at all. to kill, to impoverish, to de-culture....  That may well be in the cards for much of Latin America, too - to destroy, to impoverish in order to make our oil and mining stockholders happy.

And I really don't think it will work.

As to Israel, it is surely odd that the two countries who are the most ardent defenders of Israel (Canada and the US) are the same two who refused to accept Jews who sought refuge here from 1933 to 1948 - the year when they both voted to recognize the state of Israel.. Why the sudden change to concern for the Jews?

There was no change. The west was still largely anti-semitic, and would remain so. They voted to create Israel for two reasons.

1. It would take the pressure off them to accept Jews and, indeed, would encourage their own Jews to move out to Israel.
2. It would give the West a powerful presence in the region to maintain its dominance.

Even street kids in the arab world knew that. Jews knew that. (That's why some aren't nearly so grateful to the West as we might expect.) Anyway, we have never known this because our news media never reported it.  Muslims didn't object to Jews living among them. Jews and Arabs had lived together for thousands of years. They objected to what they saw, correctly, as the west kicking them our of their homes to create an essentially European state in the Middle East.

You think that's okay? Well...

Imagine the great powers had decided to give the region from Sussex through Moncton alll the way to Shediac to Jews as an Israeli state. Suppose the current residents of that region had to leave their homes to live in a new state (with no money, and no control over its own affairs) running along a narrow strip by the shore from Shediac to, oh, Murray Corner. And suppose the government of the new Israel decided, almost every year, to annex a bit more of your land, kick your people our of their houses, and tear them down to build new, Israeli settlements.

The creation of Israeli was a disaster. And we can't fix it. The general creation of new states in the Middle East in this century, the support of dictators, and the horrible toll on civilians killed, wounded, orphaned, impoverished was always a vast one, and hugely enlarged in the last fifteen years or so. And we can't fix that, either. On the contrary, we have made it worse.

We have also made it expensive. The US has spent some 2 trillion dollars, at least, on middle east wars in less then fifteen years. And that's not counting the regular maintenance of the world's most expensive military.
It would be cheaper, far cheaper, to give the oil billionaires several billion dollars each, and to do it every year, to go away. It is not possible for oil to be worth the real price we are paying for it in  money, in human life, and in government and big business corruption..

We are also swiftly increasing the odds in favour of a world, nuclear war..

Harper's posturing on Israel does nothing to help that country or Canada. All he is doing is pumping up the fear and hatred on both sides.

This is what happens when we let our countries be run by big business which, as it has shown many times, has neither the intelligence nor the moral values to do anything helpful..

And the disaster gets bigger. The huge cost of a corrupt. "defence" industry and its wars, combined with big business control of government, has spread poverty in the US (that we don't hear about). It has sparked social unrest which is going to get very bad. And it is turning our armies, police, and intelligence services into agents of oppression that have effectively destroyed freedom and democracy in the US - and may well do so very soon in Canada.

And all that is what isn't in the news today.
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There is no Moncton news in today's paper to speak of. That's because the Irving press is too cheap to hire enough reporters to cover anything, really. And if there were, they still wouldn't be allowed to tell the truth.

It does have one, infuriating story on A1.  "Dorchester school to stay open". It's not the good news it sounds. And it includes a disgusting warning from the Anglophone East School council that if Dorchester wants the school to stay open, the locals have to figure out a way to make it economical.

(I don't believe I've ever read of any government agency making such a warning to the Irvings.) This one also misses the point.  The problem is not that rural schools don't have enough students. The problem is one that the school council, of all people, don't seem to even notice. The problem is that these schools are essential to the communities. So how do we do that?

This is a complex question that calls for high levels of expertise in both learning and social development. It means rethinking what education is,and how it can be modified to meet these needs for rural News Brunswick. For all its babble about the problems of rural New Brunswick, I  have never seen an article in this paper about meeting the needs. This calls for some very expert thinking. You're not going to get that from a school district council that is largely ignorant of what education is. And I have seen no sign of expert thinking in the Gallant cabinet. (or any other.)

Precisely what must be learned? Precisel, what is it the community needs from the schools? Must the schools operate as they do now to meet those needs? What are alternative structures?

For the government and the council, you are not elected simply to set budgets and keeps things as they are. If anything, this province needs more teaching, not less, in rural areas to include the parents. And it needs serious thinking about the impact on children of hours on a bus every day. Nobody in council or government seems to have any understanding about what human needs are -or gives a damn.

The editorial seems promising on the danger of oil train  accidents in New Brunswick. But it wimps out at the end.  I think they trust that nice Mr. Irving.

Norbert has a decent column on prayer before the conduct of public business. Too bad he wrote much the same one several days ago.

Then.it continues its disgusting practice of carrying a commentary by a CEO on a matter in which he has a large business interest - a column largely full of business myths about how it creates jobs, etc. This isn't a commentary. This is a free ad. Are the Irvings now too cheap to hire commentators?

Alec Bruce has an engaging article about Harper's new slogan for Canada - Strong. Proud. Free.
I wonder how much we had to pay for a committee of promotion geniuses to figure that out. A more accurate one might be - Not as weak as I could be. I'd five out of then on proud. And freedom isn't everything.

B5 has an evocative account of the Canadians caught in the first gas attack at Ypres in 1915. It's the only news worth reading in the whole section.



















Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21: Justice Triumphs

Three minor figures in the Lac Megantic train disaster have been criminally charged in the case of the oil train explosion that killed 47 people in Lac Megantic. One is the driver of the train who had to drive it alone from Alberta to the coast. Apparently that villain, thinking only of himself, thought he should stop the train at night, and should sleep before driving another day. He had no-one to stay with the train overnight because the Irvings have a Christian respect for money that does not permit them to waste it on frills. Thus the firing of all photographers at Irving press. Thus the insistence that reporters and other staff members have to write columns they aren't qualified to write, and to do it in addition to their reporting and editoring work.)

The train driver and the minor railway officials face possible sentences of life imprisonment.

Irving Ltd., as always motivated by a sense of compassion, made a generous contribution of some 75 million to settle lawsuits from the case out of court, thus saving us taxpayers a good deal of money. And that, no doubt, will lead to another star on the Irving files at the Philanthropy Hall of Fame.

There is  no mention of the person at Irving head office who signed a false affidavit which misrepresented the dangerous nature of the product being shipped. There is no mention of why Irving Ltd. contracted the shipment to a railway company notorious for its dangerous, cost-cutting measures.

This will, no doubt, be a summer of joyful worship at the Irving Chapel. God, indeed, is kind to His servants.

(Don't look for the story about the police charges in the Irving Press. After all, it can't afford to cover stories that happened so far away. You have to go to a news source that just throws its money away. I found the story at Google News.)

There's an important point to remember, here. Commercial news outlets, with rare exceptions, do not exist to tell the news. Like other commercial enterprises, they do not exist to create jobs. They exist to sell advertisements. And, since the start, they have existed to lie for the benefit of their owners. The Irving press is simply a gutter example of the common breed.

Also not in Brunswick news, but well represented on the web is the imminence eviction of up 20,000 people in Detroit for non-payment of property taxes. For a sense of what that means, take a look at Detroit on Youtube. Get a good look at the filth, decay, and violence. As well, water is being shut off to some 3000 people per week.

Some years ago, I was in Detroit, and you could go from white heaven to black hell just by crossing a street. Today, it's far worse. This is a city that has gone from prosperous to filthy, decaying and very, very dangerous in just thirty years. And where will the thousands of evicted people go? Some to the streets. Some to abandoned office buildings controlled by armed gangs.

Detroit is a decaying, rotting city in a decaying, rotting country. But in that country, the richest 1% now have 90% of all the wealth, much of that wealth coming from wars to get control of oil in the Middle East and Venezuela, of minerals in Congo and Latin America. And the 1% have plenty of money to give Hilary Clinton 2.5 billion for her presidential campaign - and at least as much to her Republican opponent.

This is what social collapse looks like.
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I regularly receive copies of The Brief, a one-sheet newspaper out of Fredericton. You can reach it at nbmediacoop.org     And it's well worth a read.

The current issue has a story that a company called Forest Products Ltd. which is owned by companies like JDIrving has been spraying cut areas with a chemical that causes cancers in humans and, presumably, in wildlife.  Local people have been protesting against it.

Well, we certainly can't have dangerous things like that going on. So the police arrested three of the protesters.

Alward, in his last months as premier gave much of our crown forest (at bargain rates) to Irving Ltd. to  have fun with. In the sale terms, it is mentioned that in a short time, Irving will be exempt from any change in environmental regulations. Wasn't that sweet of Mr. Alward?

Yep. Mr. Irving works within the law. That's because he makes the law in the first place.

The paper also has some news I must have missed in the Irving press. It's on the front of the paper, just under the words IN BRIEF. It's about an investigation into the police handling of the anti-shale gas demonstration near Rexton.  There were 20 formal complaints about police actions at the protest. (I must have missed the report of that, too, in the TandT.) The head of the investigation has now announced there are reasonable grounds for the complaints. One was that native peoples were treated much more harshly than non-natives. Another was that though the police were told that an SWN truck had hit three native women, they refused to take action. (I might have just missed that. I was there with a person who recognized an SWN truck driver as a neo-Nazi. He had a big grin as he drove toward the protesters, giving them the finger.)
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No. I haven't come to today's TandT. I'm killing time because there's not much in it.. Lets start with the editorial page.

There's a big project on to raise the level of a street in Dieppe so it won't flood. That's nice. But I have no idea why it's worth writing an editorial about that. Norbert Cunningham has a decent column about how silly it was for premier Gallant to give a very misleading speech about the wonderfulness of the New Brunswick economy - and to do it with an audience that wasn't nearly naive enough to believe it.

Well, it's true. Gallant is a lightweight leading a party of featherweights. But, alas, Norbert is no better. His economic solution is to dump the whole blame for the recession and for the deficit on the middle class and poor.

Norbert. Can you spell I-R-V-I-N-G -S? How much tax do they pay? What are their profits? What do they get from us in lavish gifts every year? What does supporting them and their friends cost us? Is it possible they own the Gallants of this world? Is it possible they own you? What percentage of all the money in New Brunswick is held by the Irvings?

How many children in New Brunswick live in poverty so we won't have to tax these people? How many schools have to close, and how many children will have to ride buses for hours a day, and how many classrooms will be overcrowded? How many people will have to live on ten dollars an hour so the Irvings and their friends can live on ten dollars - and even more -  a second?

Louise Gilbert has an interesting column on the interaction between seniors and youth - and how they can benefit each other. This deserves a follow-up.

Alec Bruce has an excellent one about our recent visitor, prime minister Modi of India. Modi is, as our press releases have not mentioned, a thoroughly ruthless bastard, and a sell-out to big business. No wonder he and Harper liked each other.
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Canada&World has little worth reading about either Canada or the world.

Apparently, the Irving press still hasn't heard about the murders of opposition leaders in Ukraine's Kyiv government (the one on our side.) Nor has it heard about the anger at US bullying in Latin America. Or about the stunning increase in poverty in the US.

B3 does have an interesting story from the deputy minister of the RCMP. He has been forced to reassign over 600 police officers from organized crime and other essential work to deal with terrorism. Give that some thought.

How many Canadians, living in Canada, have been killed by terrorist attacks in this country? The only ones I know of were the two recent killings that seemed to have more to do with mental derangement than with international terrorism.

How many get killed, quite routinely, by organized crime? Nobody really knows that because organized crime is tidy, and usually places the body out of sight, perhaps by wrapping it in chains and dropping it in a lake.. (There was even a case in Montreal in which the police helped the killer by picking up the body and dumping it out on a remote road.It's in a book about the history of nightclubs in their Montreal glory days. I have forgotten the name of the book, but could find it quickly enough since it was written by a colleague of my teaching days.)

We have been manoeuvred  into a position in which we are now throwing away all democracy and all freedom  because of an anti-terrorism bill to protect us against something that hasn't happened, while at the same time transferring police from threats that are very serious indeed, and which happen daily.

And we're doing it all to defend that same freedom and democracy that we're destroying with it.

You want to know a good way to stop terrorist attacks? Just lay off from attacking their countries. We'll never stop terrorism by creating it.

Meanwhile, B5 has two heart-warming stories.about how the king of Saudi Arabia, arguably the richest man in the world, is killing people in Yemen which is arguably the country of the poorest people in the world - and also the ones who have had uncounted and unreported civilians killed by US drones over the years.

The King, who is also perhaps the most extreme Muslim in the world - and our good friend  - has been bombing Yemenis with bombs supplied at high profit by the US defence industry. US ships have also been firing along the shore - being careful, of course, to kill only those people carrying signs saying "I am a Yemen terrorist."

But, no...this is too big a story to start here. I'll do it tomorrow because there probably won't be anything worth talking about in the Irving press. In fact,it goes way back to 1918 - to an international hero, and a popular song, and a madman..... And it's a story about you and me. Tomorrow.

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 20: How could they be so stupid?

Early yesterday, a major news story broke in plenty of time to make today's newspapers. But, apparently, nobody at Irving press realized it was important.  As usual, all the world news stories seem to have been chosen by a toss of the dice. But this story has consequences to think about.

A boat carrying refugees, almost a thousand of them, sank in the Meditteranean, killing all or almost all aboard.

Why is that so important? The reason goes back to a conference in Evian, France way back in 1938. Millions of Jews were desperate to get out of Germany. I knew two of them. Bernard and Evi, his wife. They told me that they were seated near the front of the Sports Palatz when Hitler gave a speech on  his plans for Germany. Rioting arson, thefts, beatings, murders, arrests aimed at Jews were already happening. And Hitler said there was more, much more, to come.  That's when Bernard turned to Evi, and said, "I think it's time to leave."

But there was no place to leave for. No country, including Canada, the US, and Britain would accept Jews - even though all countries knew what was happening to them. Fortunately, Bernard was a wealthy man at the time. And he spent it lavishly, almost all of it, on corrupt customs officials and politicians of several countries. Canada was the one that proved most buyable. And so it was that I met his wife, by then a very elderly woman, and a student in my history class. And so I was invited to enjoy many an evening with her and Bernard.

US President Roosevelt was under pressure in that period to do something about the Jews of Germany. So he called a conference in Evian to discuss giving refugees shelter in Europe and the Americas. Hitler did not attend, but he announced that he would release any Jew, even all of them, if they had a guaranteed destination.

But the conference failed because none of the countries, including Canada and the US, would agree to accept Jews. Thus, the holocaust.

US, British, French - and now Canadian - interferences in Africa and the Middle East have sent uncountable millions fleeing in terror. Iraq alone has produced millions of refugees. A livable country even under Hussein, it was destroyed for all but oil billionaires by Britain and the US. Ghadaffi was certainly not a nice person. But Libya was functioning under him. Now, helped by Canada, the US has made Libya a furnace of horror. The Syrian "civil war", provoked and financed by the US and Saudi Arabia, has created millions more dead or hungry and homeless -and terrified. We're now doing the same thing in Yemen. The whole region is collapsing - and largely as a result of a US foreign policy established by the very, very rich.

There's no secret about it for anyone who can read and think. And it's not something that happens because they're Muslims. If that were true, the whole Muslim world would have died centuries ago.

No, they have been killed in their millions as their world, their society, their nations, were smashed to make some very, very rich people even richer. Thus the one-legged child alone and lost and friendless sitting in the filth of the street and dying of starvation. Thus the father standing dazed by the disappearance of his family that he will never see again..

Those who can move and who have money can cross to Italy and, from there, across Europe to survive. The voyage will cost them every cent they have; and they know well that the chances of rickety and overloaded boats sinking are very, very high. But to stay is almost certain death.

And so they flee in their hundreds of thousands, even millions, to a Europe that doesn't want them - just as it didn't want Jews in 1938. Will that callous hatred fade? I doubt it. With so many European - and American and Canadian leaders shouting hatred for Muslims as they once shouted hatred for Jews, we can expect serious violence as refugee numbers rise. Nor is there the slightest chance that Canada and the US will do anything useful.  Quite the contrary, Harper has been scoring political points by encouraging hatred and fear of Muslims.

Yes, it was just one boat that sank, and just a thousand or so who drowned. But there will be many millions in the greatest holocaust this world has ever seen. And we are very largely to blame because we destroyed those societies so that our billionaires could steal their resources.
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The other big story for Canada got missed, too. B4 has the story of a meeting of the Arctic Council at which Canada intends to criticize Russia for its  "Ukraine aggression". Now, that may seem like an odd thing to say at a meeting about Arctic development. It sounds, again, like Harper using this as a chance to boost his Ukrainian-Canadian vote for the next election. And it is that. But there actually is a Ukraine connection, a real one.

You may remember that earlier in the Ukraine crisis, Marshal Harper rode into a national conference with his loaded popgun on his hip, rode right up to Putin, and said, "ah'm given ya till midnight to get outta Ukraine."

And that brings us to another big story the Irving editors missed.

Recently, Russia has been massing troops and equipment in its part of the Arctic. Why? It's almost certainly Putin's way of giving the finger to marshal Harper. Well, we'll show him. We'll send up an icebreaker from the Irving shipyard - just as soon as it's built.
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B5 has a large story on how two statues, one in Ottawa and one in Guelph, are being installed in honour of Lt. Col. John McCrae who wrote  "In Flanders Fields".  As the story says, it's an excellent poem. I memorized it as a child; and I still remember every word. But people should think while reading it - because it is not - as it is so often used  on Nov. 11- a poem in mourning the sacrifice of our dead. Think of the lines...

Take up our quarrel with the foe.
To you, from failing hand we throw
The torch. Be yours to hold it high.....

That's not mourning our dead. That's glorifying war. And, if you read the newspaper story, it's clear that McCrae was, himself, a man who glorified war. A better example of war poetry by a Canadian might be Robert Service, "Rhymes of a Red-Cross Man". Some of them have more range and depth that In Flanders Fields does.

A small point - the story says that McCrae died near the killing fields he immortalized.  Please. Fields cannot be immortalized because they were never mortal in the first place.
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The only story in section A worth reading is that the bat population of New Brunswick is down from 7,000 (already a low number) just months ago to 20. Just 20.
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The editorial, again, is unspeakably silly. It suggests we solve the rural school closure problem by selling the schools to private business to operate them as nursing homes. Right. Just what we need - giving more of our health care over to the private sector.

Worse, the solution has nothing to do with the problem. The problem is to sustain the influence of the school as a major factor in community life. Making them into nursing homes is not going to do that. Nor will it do anything to solve the problem of students spending hours in a bus to travel to more distant schools...

One of the worst things about New Brunswick is how people will sit back and watch their children being maltreated so that the very rich won't have to pay taxes. This province needs a lot of thought about what its children need, what education is all about, why the literacy rate is so low (and it's not because of the schools, and it's not helped by those idiot reading marathons that IrvingLtd. sponsors.) If parents want their children to read, THEY have to read. I learned to read books and poetry because my father read them. Poor as we were, there were always some used book in the house.

This government has to put more money into the education system, not less, and more teachers, not fewer to encourage reading. I'm astonished that parents will allow a government to treat schools and children as it does just to please billionaires who don't pay taxes.

Norbert gets a gold star for a well-reasoned, balanced, and intelligently written column on the Gomeshi affair at CBC. This is really good stuff.

On the opposite page, Commentary, Craig Babstock has a decent article. But it's on the same topic that Norbert discussed, and offers the same opinion. Why on earth did the editor of these pages (Rod Allen?) allow that?

Still, on this best of all possible days, Steve Malloy has a serious, well-written, and sometimes very funny commentary on parents and spoiled brats. It's well worth a read.

Alec Bruce has a good column on the case of Senator Mike Duffy. It includes some most enjoyable quotations - and also asks the question, "who cares?" That question is neither trivial nor cynical, but symptomatic of how disillusioned we have become about our political leadership.

On the whole, a good day for editorial and op ed pages, with the only loser being the eternal.

This paper also needs a commentary writer who can deal with a broad range of matters. News is not understandable when it;s reported simply as news. The reader needs the stimulation of commentary to give the news meaning - and that means at least one person who is knowledgeable on a broad range of topics. The very occasional columns by Gwynne Dyer or David Suzuki don't fill the gap.

And it could be made easy and relatively cheap by having someone write such columns for all the Irving papers.  But that won't happen.

The Irving are too cheap. That's why they so often use staff people to write the commentaries in addition to their regular work.




Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19: A short one...

....I hope.

There are two sites I use a good deal for news. Neither is perfectly reliable. I've never even heard of a news source that is perfectly reliable. If  you think there are some, then read a book on war reporting from the early days of mass media in the 1890s to today. It's called "The First Casualty".

I worked for a time with a journalist who had served in the Canadian army in World War Two. His job was to make sure that in photos the press sent home, any photo that showed a Canadian soldier looking tired or discouraged was scrapped. Later, teaching military history to an advanced class made up largely of military officers, I assigned World War 2 newspaper readings to them. They were astounded at the obvious slanting of the news, and the outright lying. Our news media in WW1 and WW2  and in every war since are no different from those of Hitler's Dr. Goebbels.

It hasn't changed - though it's become more subtle with the use of loaded and misleading words. That's why I rely more  on the very few news media I know to be honest and intelligent - and also on 'rogue' news outlets put out by people fed up with the lying.

One of these is Information Clearing House, easily found on google. I use it with caution because it can be biased. But, at its worst, it is far better and more honest than the regular, mainstream news media.

So go to informationclearinghouse, scroll down to April 17 for "US Murdered First Elected Prime Minister of Pakistan." This goes back some 65 years; but it's tied to events in Iran today.

After World War One, Britain took control of the Iranian oilfields and their profits. They also forced Iran to provide oil fuel for the whole, Royal Navy absolutely free.

But as soon as World War Two ended, Iranians elected a government that took control of its own oilfields.
Britain, with its whole empire turning against it, didn't have to muscle to deal this, so it invited the US to join in for a share of the loot.

The US first attempted to get the newly elected prime minister of Pakistan to intervene, and convince Iran to hand over control of its oil fields to US companies. He refused. So the US hired a contract killer from Afghanistan to shoot him.

Shortly after, the US organized the overthrow of the government of Iran, and took over the oilfields, placing the country under the rule of a dictator who handed over the oilfields to American capitalists. When, after many years, Iranians got rid of the dictator and re-established a democracy, the US was furious, and sponsored Saddam Hussein to wage a bloody war against Iran. But it didn't work; and the people of Iran kept control of their oil fields.

That's why the US imposed sanctions on Iran. That's why Obama recently set up talks to get Iran to close a nuclear bomb programme that doesn't exist. That's why Congress wants a war with Iran; it wants that oil turned over to American capitalists on their terms. Now.

And we have to look at sources like informationclearinghouse and, in this case, Pakistan Today, because in some 65 years, our mainstream newsmedia have never told us about it. And they never will.
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There's also an interesting story in The Huffington Post. The URL is so long, I couldn't even get the whole thing into my search box. So, just google Huffington Us Post April 17. Scroll past the opening paragraph, and you'll find a column by Ralph Nader (which actually appeared on April 15 - go figure).  It's "Stop Corporate Welfare Kings and Tax Escapees from Strip-Mining America."

It lists several individuals and companies that make billions in profits, take billions in gifts from government, and pay no taxes at all. I understand there are some people like this in New Brunswick, too. But they don't make the pages of the TandT - except when it tells us how talented they are and how they create jobs.

That's why we have to close schools, fire teachers, make young children spend hours on a school bus every day. and forget about going to university. Tell you what.

The Irving press tells us that the .Irvings are wonderfully talented. Okay. I'll buy that. And that means we  have to develop their talent by giving them greater challenges. So....

Let their children ride on a bus for a couple of hours a day so they can sit in an overstuffed classrooms in a school lacking facilities they have in those nice, private schools. Then, make them borrow money on their own, putting themselves through university. Than, ban them   from being employed by  one of daddy's companies. Put them in starting jobs in small companies so that they can show their god-given talent in working up, and making those small companies into big, rich ones.

And, like the rest of us, make them pay taxes every damn step of the way.

Incidentally, it might also be inspiring for us peasants to know what the academic qualifications of these talented people are. I know I was at Acadia shortly after two of the Irvings were students there. However, there seems to be no record of them graduating.

Maybe some of the Irving press' hard-digging journalists could find the answer to this while they're searching for figures on how much the various Irvings made in the 2014 tax year, and how much is hidden in offshore banks, and how much they paid in taxes.

I would guess that this province is poor because of the greed of these people. I would guess this province is kept ignorant of what is happening because of the press these people own. I would guess many new Brunswickers go hungry and homeless (or live in substandard and dangerous housing) because of these people. I would guess the provincial failure to discuss issues openly is because of the fear of these people.

We could use a Ralph Nader in the Irving press.
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Finally - and this is really a world-level story, there's the decision of the Canadian Supreme Court that governmental bodies cannot open meetings with prayer - that the state and church must be separate.
My first reaction was not to care because I have known many politicians, but very, very few whose political work had anything to do with any religions.

It wasn't always that way. In Quebec, up into the 1960s, the Roman Catholic church WAS the government. No government would dream of passing a law without first submitting it to the RC church for approval. The church insisted that all schools had to be either Catholic or  Protestant (Jews were forced to accept Protestant schools.) Catholic schools were run directly by the church, with nuns and brothers assigned to much of the teaching. Their salaries were paid to the church - with the teachers getting very little of it. The care of orphans, delinquents and the mentally ill worked in much the same way. It was a system that was corrupt, debasing, physically and mentally harmful, and an utter failure. Like the Irving press, it was a system designed to keep people ignorant and obedient.

As for the people we elect, the idea of them praying is close to obscene. In most of the politicians I have known, having high moral principles meant not peeking into the urinal of the man beside you..

Then I thought of Warren Allmand, solicitor-general under Pierre Trudeau and a Roman Catholic who lives his life based on his obligations as a Christian.

We need that in our political circles. I don't mean we need just Roman Catholicism or just Christianity. And I certainly don't mean we need formal religious intervention in the decision making of government.

But we do need a sense of the principles that are to be found in any religion I can think of. And that is very rare. We, like the US and Russia and China and Britain and many other countries have an economic system based on pure greed, and on no moral or social principles whatever.

To make matters worse, we have replaced churches interfering with government, only to give great prominence to the very, very wealthy interfering with government. In fact, in places like New Brunswick, they go beyond interfering to become the real government. They use their power to abuse others, run away with their money, then make relatively small gifts and put up their pictures in philanthropic halls of fame for us all to admire.

Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples should not be in government. But they should certainly be helping us to understand the role that religions should play in ensuring that society does not become simply a means for the very rich to abuse everyone else.

Now, look at that gawdawful, simple-minded and irrelevant sermonette on Saturday's faith page in the Times and Transcript. Someday I should certainly like to see one that is not just about how to cover  your own rear end so as to get into heaven. And I also would love to see such columns by Jews, Muslims and others to remind us that when it comes to social principles based on religion, we have a lot in common. And, oh, we need to share that in the world we're facing. Never kid yourself. We all stand to be victims now matter what our religion or lack of it.

A system based on greed means endless war - and that in a world of increasingly powerful and indiscriminate    weapons. Even without the weapons, economies based only on greed are self-destructive, even if we remain alive.. The weapons mean we won't remain even alive.

Your choice. If you're scared to talk because the Irvings and their kind might get you, bear in mind that they'll destroy you whether you talk or not.