Thursday, August 21, 2014

August 21: a sore thumb, and a world gone mad....

It's on page C1 of Wednesday's paper "Rail report targets safety issues." This is the report of a federal commission to determine the causes of the train derailment that killed 47 people in Lac Megantic. It's a disgustingly inadequate report. dumping all the blame for the railway's laxness in enforcing rules, for the poor training it gave its employees, and the terrible inadequacy of its tanker cars. That much one can agree with, of course. But there is more, much more, that should have been there.

Then it blames the engineer, a man who had been driving that train by himself across Canada. He must have been dreadfully tired when he pulled into Lac Megantic. But getting tired is not a crime. The crime was committed by people higher up who decided to use one engineer because it was cheaper (and damn the risk), people who knew the risk of those oil cars but didn't care, and somebody who filed a false cargo manifesto suggesting the oil was of a type less volatile than it really was.

But they'll all dump on the engineer who greatest fault was probably that it was the only job he could find in a USA that has 36% of its population living on welfare.

Forty-seven people were killed because of the drive for profit, for every extra penny that could be saved. And after a year of study, we get a report that tells us nothing we haven't already heard.

Then I noticed a couple of odd things. First, the report was largely a report that appeared in The Canadian Press. So why assign a reporter to cover it? Why not just print the CP report?

Then there's the quotation that sticks out like a sore thumb. In column two, the story says,  "...Irving Oil Ltd. said it has co-operated with the Transportation Safety Board throughout its investigation. Well, goody, goody for Irving Oil Ltd for obeying the law in an investigation into why one of its shipments killed 47 people. (I mean - they must have cooperated - because, well, a spokeswoman said so.)

However, reporters and investigative committees are supposed to ask questions. Obviouly, neither reporters nor the commission bothered to do that.

Somebody signed that false manifesto about the cargo. It can only have been someone at Irving. Who was it? Could a false manifesto be a factor in such an accident? (Yes, it could - because a purpose of the manifesto is to warn firemen of the type of cargo that is coming their way.) And now, 47 people are dead.

Did Irving Co. Ltd. cooperate with the investigation enough to say who had signed that manifesto? If so, why doesn't the report mention it?

Another question for the reporter - is it cheaper to ship some kinds of oil than others? Is it cheaper to ship Alberta crude if you say it's something else?

And those old and dangerous oil cars - is it cheaper to ship with them?

Irving Oil, we are  told by the TandT, is run by brilliant minds that have been shipping vast quantities of oil for years. In fact, it has its own railway connections, so it knows plenty about railways.. Which of those brilliant minds decided to ship (under a false label) highly volatile crude oil? Which decided to choose a railway with a well known bad record for safety? Which decided to accept the use of old and dangerous oil cars? Which decided it was a great idea to have only one engineer for that long trip?

Was their extra profit to be produced by any of this?

And where the hell  has Transport Canada been for the years this has been going on?

Forty-seven people are dead.  I got a tougher review than this when I faked an absence from school note. The report seems designed to avoid the real questions and to place the  blame on those low on the totem pole. It also seems designed to paint Irving Co. Ltd. as the good guys.

This is a disgusting report to come from a government board, and disgusting coverage of it from a newspaper. We should be demanding to know the whole story of why 47 people died. What we're getting is a whitewash of Irving Co. Ltd.
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a small point - the TandT seems lately to have adopted an awkward style of writing  sub heads (a  sentence in medium print just below the headline). C1 has an example, Shooting, As protests rage, U.S. president struggles to defuse tensions.) What that means is that the president is trying to defuse tensions by shooting at people. Putting a comma after shooting does not change that.
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The front page (A section) tells you all you need to know about Moncton city planning. Council is encouraging a 1950s style urban sprawl development. Not only is this  expensive in supplying services, it also increase urban sprawl in province that already has the heaviest private car dependence in Canada.

But this ain't 1950. The future is going to be very different from the one we saw then. Great planning, council.
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Norbert is still on his cut the budget rant. (He read a book.) There are two things he hasn't even thought of.
1. Where do you cut? The only area he talks of cutting is services to us peasants. He hasn't even mentioned that the big, budget loss is in services we give to the rich.
2. He doesn't mention the fact that if we elect either the Liberals or the Conservatives, the budget will be determined by the same man who have been setting our budgets for some years, Mr. Irving. As always, the wealthy will  bleed everybody else to make themselves richer. That's why the real issue in this election is not the budget. It's getting our province and our lives back from those who have created the mess we're in. (of course, that would also mean getting newspapers that tell the truth.). That's the only way we'll  get democracy in this province. And the only way we'll make change.

For a world in chaos, the most important thing Eric Lewis can think of writing about is a column on the favourite music store of his acne years. Brian Cormier has an inspiring story about buying coffee.

The only intelligent thing in this whole paper is Alec Bruce's column.
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On Thursday's front page, it has happened. New Brunswick, the province that can't afford schools or hospitals, that does almost nothing for the homeless or the hungry, that is determined to cut its spending on frills like education and health, has 23.5 million to spend on Moncton's proposed "events" centre.

We live on a continent on which the economy of the US, our major trading partner, is sliding into a deep hole with 36% of its people on welfare - and millions worse off who can't get welfare. That is increasinly going to affect us. In addition, our own wealth is distributed so badly that most of us are steadily drained by the rich to make them even richer. We live in an extremely uncertain economic world.

But we're going to spend 100 million plus on an "events" centre. Who will benefit? Well, first crack of the bat, some big, contractors will benefit. Then the owner of the hockey team gets a free ride with a new rink far beyond any realistic need. Will the centre make any money for Moncton?

I doubt it. Once it's built, permanent jobs will be few, and mostly low-paid. And before Moncton can get a penny out of the place, there's a line-up of people to pay - big time bands don't come cheap, and there will probably not be a whole lot of money among the North American peasantry to buy tickets.

If the events centre were to be a sure money-maker, then the big money of this province would build it to keep the profit for itself. And this is what capitalism is supposed to be about - private individuals risking their own money. But that's not what's happening here. We're taking the risk. People like the owner of the hockey team are taking a free ride.
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Most of section A is about the election and the party leaders. And much of it is mindless drivel with Gallant, I think, the class act of dripping pure drivel. His goal is "making things better". Wow! What an insight!

The Greens and the NDP are the only parties with credible platforms. But nobody mentions the two central problems that New Brunswick must address if it is to have any future at all. There is the question of restoring democracy so that the province is really ours. Then there is the question of ending this monstrous and growing gap in income between the very rich and the rest of us.

No party mentions it because it would be death to do so. God forbid any New Brunswicker should consider any new idea. New Brunswickers won't take a stand on an issue the very rich don't approve of. And as long as that's true, their problems will only get worse.
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The world gone mad is the whole story of foreign news coverage. American news agencies and many politicians are working up a frenzy because an American reporter was beheaded by the Islamic state of Iraq (or whatever its latest name is.) Obama is opposed to sending in troops a)because he already has too many messes in foreign affairs to worry about and 2) another intervention against Moslems would simply make the Islamic State more popular. Opposed to him are the usual village idiots in Congress who think that killing more thousands of Iraqis (including large numbers of the innocent) is the only way to respond to the death of an American reporter.

The Islamic State forces have now intervened in a big way against the rebels (and the government) in Syria, again forcing the US into intervention in a civil war that it and Saudi Arabia started and financed.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is playing its own (and unclear) game.  It seems to be backing the  Islamic State in hopes of increasing Saudi power in the middle east, but also backing the rebels the Islamic state is killing in Syria.

And some day, we may get the big news on Saudi Arabia. The US has spent over a trillion dollars, and has squandered the lives of Americans and Canadians and Afghanis, supposedly to punish Afghanistan for 9/11 - which Afghanistan almost certainly had nothing to do with. However, check the old news stories for 9/11. There were no Afghanis among the suicide bombers. But there were a lot of Saudis. And Osama bin Laden was a Saudi.

There could be a story behind that. Their is no such thing as nations that are friends to each other.

Israel is engaged in extermination of the Palestinians. That's why no peace agreement has ever been possible. Israel wants to maintain its stranglehold on Palestinians  until those unfortunate people are either refugees or dead. In this respect, Israelis have done to themselves what Hitler did to them in Mein Kampf. They now think of themselves as a race. The difference? Hitler saw them as an inferior race. Israelis see themselves as a superior race, ubermen.  And yet I see in our letters to the editor much whining about poor Israel which is fighting for its survival. Poor Israel has the most powerful military in the region, almost all supplied free by the US.  It also has a GDP of 515 billion. Palestine has no significant armed forces, not even a rowboat or a kite; and it's GDP is 2 billion. Poor little Israel. The idea that Israel is battling for survival is absurd. Even worse, I  have to agree with Jewish friends who feel that Judaism has suffered disastrous changes in Israel.

And Ukraine is desperately trying to draw the US and the European Union into a confrontation with Russia. That's why it's stalling the humanitarian supplies from Russia, even though the Red Cross has approved them.There is big money in the US that would also like a war with Russia.

And we had the very ugly scenes in Ferguson, Missouri.

Most of these have a common origin. (The exception is the Russia/US tension which is purely a matter of power and money.) But the others are linked to an event in 1492, an event that led to the rapid deterioration of billions of people and nations all over the world.

But I'll write about that some day when I haven't rambled on so long.
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The editorial is, as always, puerile and in the service of the master. Norbert's column falls short of puerile. It's about making a list of items in each party's programme, then thinking about it to decide who to vote for. Lord, that's childish. In the first place - to choose one candidate - do you seriously think that Gallant will do anything the Irvings don't want him to do?

Only fools vote for a party based on its promises. (Luckily for our politicians, lots of fools have the vote.) What you look for are the principles, call them moral principles if you like, of the party.Does it, like the Liberals and Conservatives, care only about pleasing big money? Or is it really in protecting the interests of the people of New Brunswick?

Anyway, grow up Norbert. We don't  have a democracy. Get serious. You cannot make choices of any sort in a province that the people do not control.

Rod Allen demonstrates once again in his opinion column that he is incapable of forming an opinion.

Both Alec Bruce and Jody Allaire are excellent. I would hope that ms. Allaire will next week give us more detail about her topic, the World Acadian Congress' Women's Summit Meeting. It sounds interesting, and I think may readers would look forward to getting more detail.

Sorry to be so long about today's blog.







Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 18: Blah....

Monday's Times and Transcript was,  more than usually, pretty flat gruel. Almost all news media have always been propaganda sheets. In the old days, that was evident in the press empires of William Randolph Hearst and Lord Beaverbrook But these were lone operators, each with his own agenda so one could always read several papers, and come up with some hint of the truth.

But now they are almost all of them, owned in huge blocks by a handful of multibillionaires who are united to control government - and the news media. Publicly-owned systems like BBC and CBC were more honest, and they attracted a much higher calibre of journalist than the privately owned ones did. But the British government and ours are both severely limiting these organizations. And both seem determined to destroy them.

And so we enter the age of dictatorship by big business which now controls our governments, our economies, our foreign policy - and is determined to control our schools and our health systems - for private profit.

Big business is also determined to make us poor because poverty is what makes it profitable. That's why so many businesses were happy to get free trade through. Now, they can take advantage of the the cheapest labour in the world and, at the same time, cheapen labour back home while simultaneously blaming those lazy poor for causing the recession.

It's also in the interest of big business that we fight wars - and big business pats us on the head, and says it was done to defend freedom. In fact, almost all wars are fought for economic gain and for loot. And that, incidentally, was true of World War 1. But I notice there has been no mention of that in our memoirs of that war.

The wars also destabilize whole regions of the world where the frightened and confused people turn to the only institution they have left - their religion. That religion becomes the focus of their resistance -as it did in Catholic Quebec after the British conquest, as it did in Poland under Soviet rule, just as it has in the middle east under western attack. Then the news media blame religion for causing wars.

Is this short-sighted on the part of business? Of course it is.

It's as short-sighted as it is for the moneyed people who rule New Brunswick to plan our economic futures as being dependent on oil. We know that oil will destroy us. Despite billions of dollars spent by the oil industry to convince us there is no climate change, anyone with enough wit to know how to burp knows by now that it's happening. And it's happening quickly,

And here we are in this election discussing whether the big issue is raising the sales tax or the minimum wage.

I have been criticized for saying the very, very rich are often (usually) stupid. I make no apology for that. They're skilled at making money for themselves. That's it. Unrestrained capitalism has no sense of the future, no sense of consequences, and not even a hint of anything that could be called morality. And all of that is even worse than stupidity.

And all the above thoughts were roused by reading Monday's TandT. And that's pretty much all that as aroused.
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Almost all the news is trivial or heavily biased - with trivial having a big lead.

Here's a short-cut to understanding it all.

All over the world, we are destroying traditional societies, forcing our own rule and our own ways on them.

Mind you. We don't want them to become just like us - and certainly not to become equal to us. That's why they government is so angry at native chiefs making fabulously high salaries. One, for example, was paid 900 thousand to govern 80 people.

Who the hell does he think he is. An Irving?

No. We intrude on nations, destroy their traditional cultures and values, loot their resources, use the people as cheap labour, allow elections when it produces puppet leaders who do what we tell them to, and overthrow democracies that don't do what we tell them to.  While pretending to bring them into a modern world, we allow them in ONLY as inferiors to us.The damage that causes can haunt us for centuries.

That's what lies behind Canada's difficult relations with native peoples. That's why blacks are rioting in Missouri. That's why extreme groups like the Islamic State take root. That's why the US is working so hard to break up Syria and Iraq and Libya and other countries - to keep them weak and vulnerable, wide open to western looting of their oil, and just chock full of cheap and desperate labour.

And Israel is being picked on by Palestine? Pure bunk.

Israel's population is 8 million. Palestine's is half that.

Israel's GDP is 242 billion. Palestine's is - now get this - 4 billion. In addition, Israel gets enormous gifts of money from the US, most recently 150 billion in the latest military hardware. Israel also has nuclear weapons and a navy.

All of that makes Israel militarily the most powerful nation per capita in the world.

Palestine has  no army, navy or air force. It gets few gifts of weapons from anybody.  So we weep for poor little Israel, Always being picked on.

Moreover, all Israeli land used to belong to Palestine. Then it was invaded by Zionists. (Yes, it was invaded.) The invaders used terrorist groups who at first killed British soldiers who had taken Palestine after World War One. Then they began killing Palestinians. Then the UN recognized the state of Israel - though that land was not the UN's to give away.

So Palestinians were kicked off their land and out of their homes that had been theirs for thousands of years. And Israel has been kicking them off their own land and stealing it for Jewish settlers for almost fifty years.

It has,  for that time, killed thousands of Palestinians, controls their trade, even limiting the amount of medical supplies they can import. shoots fisherman for fishing along their own coast - and so it goes. What protects  Israel through all this is the US. It has used it veto in the UN some fifty times to nullify votes that were going to go against Israel - some for war crimes.

The goal of Israel? To keep Palestine in poverty, to kill as many Palestinians as possible, and to drive the rest into exile. Then to take over the land for a greater Israel. That's why Hamas was firing rockets at Israel. That's why neither side will accept a peace on terms the other can possibly accept. But you'd never know that from our news media.
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NewsToday in Monday's paper has a story about how the federal government followed the NB fracking protest. It's a pretty tame report. It does not mention, for example, that the RCMP almost certainly handed over its findings on "dangerous schemers" to our domestic spy service which immediately forwarded it to American spy services. That's what police states do.

The section also has the story on how Transport Canada issued warnings about one-engineer trains and the dangers they pose BEFORE Lac Megantic.  So, was Irving just a babe in the woods who didn't know enough about railways to know the danger is was posing in sending highly volatile cargo in that way - just to save a few bucks? (Well, they must have known. Norbert says businesspeople are  real smart.)

Most of the ed and op ed pages are just trivia. The editorial is about the importance of finishing repairs on some road. Way to come to grips with the real issues, guys.

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For Tuesday, the TandT has a long story for what should have been a short one.Windsor energy is suing the provincial government for saying the government was cancelling a deal for it to drill for oil in Sussex. It seems now that the government did not cancel it. So it made a false statement. They didn't need a story when the material they had was only a slightly longer than usual headline.

So, where are our digging reporters? There's obviously a lot more to this story.

The editorial tells us "Transparency the key for a shale gas industry". Imagine the hypocrisy of a Tant T editor writing that. These are the editors who have kept information from us all the way.

Norbert is just silly and irresponsible. But Mr. Irving will like his column since following Norbert's advice leaves Mr. Irving in charge of the province..

Alec Bruce has a good one on how the federal government is (probably deliberately) destroying the accuracy and usefulness of information gathered by Statistics Canada.

Alan Cochrane offers the deep insight that only a TandT editor can have into the importance of turning off your cell phone at concerts. Nest week, I understand he's going to take up the big topic - How to zip up your fly discreetly while in public.

Louise Gilbert has a helpful column on where to go to find art in Moncton. However, she failed to mention my works which are on display ( for a modest entrance fee) in my living room.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

August 16: have a swig of fracking waste water?

In the TandT for August 15, the first page actually has a real news story. "Can cities ban frack water from sewers?" The questions arises because a company in Nova Scotia wants to dump 30 million liters of the stuff into our sewers, and thence into the river. They claim it has already been treated so that it is drinkable.

Well, there are questions that weren't asked. If it is actually drinkable, why won't Nova Scotia allow it to be dumped there? Why was the company allowed to conduct fracking if it didn't have a sure place to dispose of the waste water? It may be okay for me to drink the stuff. But I'm rarely thirsty enough to drink thirty million liters. In that quantity of waste water, how much poison is left to do damage if it's all dumped in one place? Do other Nova Scotia companies have the same problem? If so, do they plan to dump in Dieppe? Exactly what are the chemicals in it? (fracking companies keep that a secret from everybody.) What happens to the "cleansed" poisons? Do they simply disappear? Or is the company just dumping them back in the ground?

And if fracking resumes in New Brunswick, how do companies propose to dump the waste water? That's important because we're talking a lot more, a LOT more, than thirty million liters.

I really wish that TandT editors would tell their reporters to ask questions.

Now - watch for the editorial on how many great jobs will be created by dumping waste water in our sewers.

On A5, the interviews with party leaders continue with the question of the day being the minimum wage. Both the Green Party and the NDP had clear answers that also gave an indication of their philosophies of government, and where their political sympathies lie. They would increase the minimum wage.

People's alliance would not increase it because that might discourage business. In other words, it believes in maintaining poverty in order to provide a cheap work force.Well, that tells us something about their philosophy of government, and where their sympathies lie.

Premier Alward dodged the bullet with a statement that really said nothing at all.

Gallant, as always, was vague and feeble. "We're going to have to find a way to....." Hey, kid. We're in the middle of an election campaign. Isn't it a little bit late to say gee, golly whiz; we're gong to have to find a way to....?

Gallant was a debater at McGill. I was on the debating team at Acadia. We won our way to the finals, losing only to Simon Fraser. McGill never even made it into the nationals. I would love to debate Gallant. This is a man who has no political philosophy, no guidelines, no plans...and, unlike Alward, he can't even fake it.

In NewsToday ("Parties spar over Grit tax proposal"), Gallant is a little clearer. He would raise business taxes, and taxes on the rich to pull in $63 million dollars. He mentions Walmart as a target.

First, 63 million doesn't sound like a big bite for large corporations and the rich. Secondly, why mention Walmart? Does it make more than the Irvings?
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For the weekend in foreign news, it wasn't as bad as I feared it would be. It wasn't good. But it was, mostly, on hold. The exception was the humanitarian aid convoy sent to Ukraine by Russia - and being blocked by the Ukraine government.

I don't really understand this one. But it's scary. Does it show that Putin is now prepared to risk war with the US?  Or does it show he thinks the US too tied up in the general collapse of just about everything in the Middle East to intervene?

Certainly, the Ukraine government wants a war. That's why it's holding up the aid convoy, hoping to provoke a Russian attack - and to suck in the US and NATO.
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The best of editorial and op ed is Alec Bruce on Gallant's job creation plan. The rest of those two pages are a waste of time and paper.
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In today's paper, Section A has nothing worth reading. There is a big story on "Acadians celebrate in style".- and lots of photos.
 But it really doesn't say anything beyond very vague references to culture. It tells us nothing about Acadians, who they have been, and who they are now. And random interviews with people on the street do not make up for this lack of any research or analysis.

There is a story in the history and meaning of Acadia up to this day. I wish I knew more about it. But it just isn't here n the TandT. Section B has more photos of the Acadian celebrations in Section B. But they tell us nothing.
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In Section B, the lead story is about First Nations' Chiefs who are asking to courts to block deals between the NB government and forestry companies. Nice to see some New Brunswickers who take action.
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B1 also has a story on Canada sending aid to help in humanitarian work in Iraq where thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by Isis. That's odd. We didn't send aid to Iraq when thousands (hundreds of thousands) of innocent civilians were being killed by American troops.

The story also has a long statement by a colonel that that the US did not cause the Iraq crisis. But it has a moral commitment to help the Iraqis.

How can a person say that with a straight face? And why would Canadian Press even bother to include it in a story about Canadian aid? This is simply propaganda. Of course, the US caused the crisis. It bombed and shelled Iraq into chaos - so that it could get control of the oil. It created a country mired in poverty, and with no political stability at all. In the process, American violent intrusions into the Moslem world created groups like Isis that thrive in destablilized countries. Of course, the US caused the crisis.

Does it now believe it has a moral commitment to help Iraq? Of course not. No country goes to war out of a moral commitment. It is not there to save Iraq. It is there to get back control of the oil fields - and to keep Iraq a weak, divided and unstable country so that it will be easier to control the oil.

Harper assures us that Canada will not stand idly by while innocent civilians and religious minorities are murdered. When did Harper become all that pious and morally pure? We stood idly by when the US killed innocent civilians by the millions in Vietnam, Guatemala, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. In the case of Libya and Afghanistan, we actually even helped the US. We have also stood idly by while the US encouraged, supplied and trained the mercenary thugs we call rebels in Syria.
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There is nothing on the editorial page.

Brent Mazerolle has an opinion column about the militarization of police forces.But I'm not sure he understands all the issues.

It's true that some police (or whoever they were) were wearing camouflage outfits at Rexton last summer. Mazerolle does not address the question of why they were wearing them. After all, they were standing there in plain sight. So why the camouflage?

Because the clothing was intended to send a message. They were not simply police. They were warriors. That's why US police often wear such outfits when working on city streets and on raids on houses. They're not for camouflage. They're to send a message.

And why, at Rexton, were they carrying combat rifles? These are not designed for crowd control and they are not designed for sniping. They are designed for mass and rapid fire against hordes of soldiers on the other side. That's why they have big magazines.

I quite agree that police should have rifles at their disposal. But combat rifle firepower is more than a little much for crowd control.

Above all, militarization means changing the way police think of themselves. They are to stop thinking of themselves as protectors of the people. No. The people are, as in a military war, the enemy.

There's always been an element of that thinking in police forces. I learned that in my days as a pistol instructor for a local police force. Some would tell how they'd like to nail one of those peace marchers, especially if he had a beard - and beat the daylights out of him. (That type was very common in the Montreal riot squad.)

They reminded me of the school bully in grade 5. The teacher appointed him monitor for the cloakroom. He just loved lining us up in rigid order, punching anybody who moved. Keeping us in line - that was his job, and he loved it.

That is the attitude a soldier needs. And the people the soldier meets are simply enemies to be demolished.  But that is not the role of police. They exist to protect us and our rights as well as a central reason for enforcing the law.

Militarization of police is not just a question of equipment. It is a recasting of the mentality and the role of police. Under it, they are not there to protect us. They are there to obey the masters of society, and to keep the people in line. And so they become the death of democracy - and the godparents of violence (as we saw in Missouri.)

That's why the military camouflage outfits are a very bad idea. They are deliberately chosen to send a deliberate message to us and the to police who wear them.

With all the trouble spots to choose from, it's odd that Gwynne Dyer chooses to write about an uprising in an obscure part of China - especially when Dyer himself says it's not going to succeed.
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In Life and Times, the sermonette is the usual pious but irrelevant chatter. Jesus must be embarrassed to read those things.
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In Whatever, all the student columns are worth a read.  But for a real, kick in the teeth, read p. F7 where Isabelle Agnew has a really furious column on sexism and misogyny. And it's well done.l
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Finally,  check out the site below. It's a  government news site for North Korea. And it even has a reference to Moncton when it tells us that the North Korea women's soccer team beat Germany at FIFA by nine to zero. (I didn't know that.)

There's also a great section on how North Korea leads the world in almost everything, including being the freest and most advanced democracy in the world. And how Kim is brilliant and just everybody loves him. This is hilarious, far the funniest thing I've seen on the web.

https://twitter.com/DPRK_News

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 14: At last, we catch up...

The Thursday paper is easy. It has only one item in it worth reading - on p. D7. Brian Cormier has a column on depression, and it's a good one. As usual, it's a personal story rather than an opinion. But in this case, it works. And it's well-written.

The editorial writer attacks the party leaders for not having a policy entirely meeting the wishes of the TandT (and its boss). ---I notice the editorials are almost always on matters of interest to the boss, and always support his views.. This suggests, obviously, that the editors are hired shills. And it also suggests they aren't bright enough to write about anything else.

But they offer a brilliant idea concerning government grants to companies in order to create jobs. Instead of grants, we would just lower corporate taxes. Yeah. It's terrible the way we handicap those hard-working job creators with crushing taxes. Just lower corporate taxes. We can do it easily by closing all the hospitals. (However, how any of that is an improvement on our loans-to-billionaires policy isn't clear to me.)

Norbert's headline  is simply wrong. "All five leaders fail to answer hospital closure question". That is simply not true. What Norbert means is that they didn't do what he said they should do. I would agree that only one leader gave a clear and intelligent answer. That was Dominic Cardy who said that you don't start by cutting budgets; you start by determining what it is the people need.

Eric Lewis writes about bicycles on the streets. It's an issue on which Moncton is 50 years behind the rest of the developed world - and Eric Lewis adds nothing to it.

In summary - a bloody awful edition - except for Brian Cormier.
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For Friday, the most interesting page of Section A is the obituary page.


NewsToday has an intriguing story on  it first page: "Role in Iraq plan possible for Canada". This concerns the attempt to get thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Yazidis, Christians and other groups threatened by starvation and slaughter out of Iraq. Almost half a million displaced Iraqis have fled into Turkey.

Harper has given no clear response yet. (It seems normal for him to talk big on issues like this - and then do nothing.) Will he allow some of these people to enter Canada? I should hope so. But I think it unlikely.

Almost all other world trouble spots are on hold for a few days, at least. The first one to heat up will probably come when  a Russian truck convoy of humanitarian aid reaches the Ukraine border. Ukraine has vowed to block it.

For foreign news, this week of relative quiet should have been a chance for the paper to publish stories that give us deeper insight to the Russia-Ukraine, Israeli-Palestinian issues. Instead, it ran stories that told us nothing.

Page C 12 has an interesting article on two native groups which have ordered the closure of two mines in B.C., both on environmental grounds. It will be interesting to see which side the provincial and federal governments will take. This could set important precedents, one way or the other, for the role of native peoples in Canada.

The editorial is the usual hymn to Mr. Irving's opinions. And even Alec Bruce picks up that theme in his column which advocates making the the rest of us pay for the excesses of the very rich few.

Rod Allen tells an utterly pointless story about how he saw the red moon,  then adds other personal items about his daily life - as if anybody could care a damn.

Beth Lyons' column pretty much saves the paper for thursday. She urges us all to support LGBT Pride week. And that sounds fine to me. But, to the shock of my virginal mind, she refers to LGBT's as "queer".
Presumably, that is now socially acceptable. I just can't keep up with all these changes.

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Sorry. There is just nothing else in these two, miserable editions. And this when a potentially big crisis is coming to a boil.

In Missouri, an eighteen-year old African-American boy was shot to death by a policeman. That has provoked days and nights of rioting - and of police patrols in armoured cars stocked with military combat weapons. -oh, and of police wearing camouflage outfits - camouflage in a battlefield of paved streets and sidewalks, and block after block of stores and apartments.

CBC drew attention to this in a new report. It's something we should have noticed here in New Brunswick a year ago.

I remember the lineup of riot police as they faced a crowd, largely of native peoples, blockading shale gas trucks. And I remember the men behind them, wearing army combat camouflage and carrying combat rifles.
1. Why were they wearing camouflage clothing? They weren't crawling through underbrush. They were standing in the open.
2. Why the combat rifles with their very large magazines? These rifles are designed for the rapid fire of battle against a  heavily -armed enemy. They're designed for mass killing. That's why they have large magazines. They were never designed for sniping at individuals in a civilian gathering. So why did they have them?
3. And they didn't look like police. They all looked as if they came from the same cookie-cutter, the same standard of military conditioning that you see in men who do physical conditioning every day.

(No, I don't mean police are fat and sloppy. They were certainly a husky bunch. But they have a job to do. They can't spend all day, every day in training. Soldiers can.)

I'm not surprised that no Irving reporter seems to have noticed this. But the difference in appearance between the riot squad and the snipers was remarkable. They didn't look like police. They looked and acted like a foreign military come to defeat us.

Were they army? Or were they a new branch of police trained as soldiers? That would explain their bizarre use of camouflage and their combat rifles. And there is, or should be, a big difference between police and soldiers. Police exist to protect people. Men who wear camouflage and carry combat rifles exist to kill whoever they are  told to kill.

For some years now, police in the US have been militarizing in their training, weapons, and clothes. Some of the police in Missouri, as I said, were wearing military camouflage outfits - in the middle of a town where they would have had a searcg to find a leaf to hide behind.

In other cities in the US, police on duty checking people on the streets in daytime for their ID cards wear  camouflage outfits. They also wear them for (unauthorized) raids on people's homes. The message is clear.
This isn't policing. This is war. And the police aren't there to protect us. They're there to make us do what the boss wants.

This process is in quite an advanced condition in the US -  which is one reason many people call the US a police state. I have no reason to doubt that the same process is happening in Canada. And that process may be what we were watching in last summer's shale gas blockade.

It poses special and immediate problems in the US. It is a country which has done almost nothing about its racial tensions since 1865. The hatreds and resentments run deep on both sides. And this September, for the first time, the majority of children registering for kindergarten will be non-white.

What's happening in Missouri may be just a start on the final blow to the empire.

Watch, too, for the gun nuts, the ones who say they must have guns to defend the constitution. The constitution has been in shreds for years. And they did nothing. But if the rioting spreads, they'll join with the government people who destroyed the constitution, and they'll shoot the rioters.

Meanwhile, it would be nice if an editor who is bright enough could order a reporter who is a real reporter - if there is one - to find out exactly who were those men in camouflage outfits last summer - and why they wore camouflage outfits.




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 14, part two: (actually posted on July 15 and catching up with the Tand T of August 12))

Readers who check other sites I mention might have been trying to get Information Clearing House a few days ago - to find it closed. This has been a regular occurrence for some years. Unidentified hackers break in to put it out of service. Of course,  we know the hackers can't possible be government agencies.

I should also mention that if you scroll down a bit on the site, you will find, on the right margin a long list "alternative news and opinion sources".  I am not familiar enough with most of them to make any recommendations. Something else to catch up on.

The only big news on the front page is the death of Robin Williams. (The story is actually in News Today.) Somehow, this is one of those stories that, for reasons I feel rather than understand, seems to mark the passage of an age - and emphasizes the loss of it.

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A3 has a story about about awarding grants to preserve and to encourage buyers for "heritage" buildings.  Their definition of heritage seems to be anything that's old -which could make me worth a pretty penny. The story featured a photo of Castle Manor.

What does Castle Manor have to do with any heritage? How does it figure in the history of Moncton?

Architecturally, it's a tasteless imitation of castle architecture of a thousand years ago with obviously phony ramparts. The style was (unwisely) revived for churches in the nineteenth century. But Castle Manor is a double stinker. With the general shape and function of a working class apartment building of the 1940s, it is simply a bad taste copy of a bad taste copy. Why one earth should an apartment be built to look (sort of) like a castle? Only with none of a real castle's sense of purpose and history?

And in this province, where we are going to lose essential services  to balance t he budget, we have lots of money to preserve that grotesque pile of rock, and lots to give millionaires so they can buy it.
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A7 has the daily quiz of provincial party leaders on the question of the public service. Most jumped on the band wagon to reduce it because we have proportionately more civil servants than most other provinces.

Well, of course we do, you twits. Whatever the size of the population, each branch of the public service requires the same number of people ( 1) to head the various departments. A committee to plan education will need the same number of people no matter what the size of the province. The work to be done does not get all that much smaller no matter what the size of the province.

The first issue is not the size of the civil service. It's the size of the job to be done. If we want to bring our civil service in line with other provinces, then the logical response is to unite the Atlantic provinces into one, big one.

The only party with an intelligent answer to the question was the NDP. (Note - I am not an automatic supporter of the NDP. I have been very disappointed with how it has gone from being a social democratic party to being just another Liberal party.)

Dominic Cardy, NDP leader, said, "It's a question of what do we need to deliver the public services people want." That's not only an intelligent answer; it's the only one that suggests a philosophy of what government is.  You start with the people and what they need, not with what some billionaire wants.
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The death of Robin Williams dominates the news in NewsToday. That's not surprising. The rest of the world is marking time. What we should be looking for will happen within days.
1. Israel and Hamas will have decided for or against a peace deal. My guess is they will decide against. Israel has no intention of giving up its dominance of Palestine. And if Palestine cannot get freedom from Israel, then it might as well go down fighting.
2. A large Russian truck convoy of humanitarian aid is heading for the Ukraine border with food and medicine for those caught in the fighting. Putin has to do this - or he becomes a straw man leader in the eyes of Russians and, indeed, of the world.
The Kiev government says it will stall the convoy at the border for a week or more. Of course. The Kiev government needs a war that will suck in NATO. And that might do it.
3.Iraq? Anybody's guess. Isis is the middle east response to all those years in which they were killed, pauperized, looted for the benefit of western empires - most recently, the American empire. This could trigger one hell of an explosion throughout Africa and the Middle East. The fall of an empire is not a pretty thing to watch.
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For the Tuesday edition, Norbert took off on British historian, Dominic Hardy, who teaches at Oxford. But Norbert knows more about history than Hardy does.

Hardy wrote an article suggesting that the world would be a better place if Britain and Canada had not joined into the war. But he's not up to Norbert's standards. No, says Norbert, good historians don't speculate "...what if..."

It's coming out of  your ears Norbert. I worked in universities for 40 years. I've know a lot of historians (I am one), including a few of world reputation. We often speculated on the what ifs of history. As long as people know that what  you're offering is an opinion - and it was clear with Hardy - there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, training in history provides the skills to examine the what ifs.

And one can even project the what ifs into the future. What if the US water shortage continues  (as a result of climate change)? The only place to get more is Canada. What if Canada limits the water it sells because of the effect will it have on us?  Would the US invade? (Answer, if Harper is still PM, the US won't have to invade. He always says yes to US presidents.)

When Hardy says politicians often rush into war without any care for their citizens who will be killed, Norbert really gets his petticoats all messed up. He points to Neville Chamberlain, and his reluctance to go to war with Hitler. Well, yes, he was reluctant, but with good reason. He knew that Britain was nowhere close to being ready for a  major war. Later, it would prove how unready it was at Dunkirk.

 And the US did. as Norbert says, enter late - but that had nothing to do with opposing war. It had to do with not caring a damn what happened to Britain; and hoping to pick up the pieces of its empire when Britain collapsed. It was Hitler's invasion of Russia - as much as the bombing of Pearl Harbour - that saved Britain's butt. Until then, it was beaten and hopeless.

Then he says World War 1 gave us the League of Nations. Big deal. It didn't do anything. But then - after World War Two - there were no more wars between major powers. So that shows war can make good changes. Gee, Norbert, ya think that might have something to do with both sides having nuclear weapons? And if the US prevents wars, how come we've have nothing but wars for over fifty years? Is war okay if it's just big countries slaughtering small ones?

And if the UN is the great, beneficial result of World War One, how come we have the possiblities of war with Russia and China looming? Not to  mention most of the Middle East and Africa.

It seems Hardy's real sin in Norbert's eyes is that he's anti-war. Oh, naughty baby.
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Speaking of war, I do hope we get a sketch of General Currie in the series on Canadians in World War 1. He commanded Canadian troops in the last half of the war. As a real estate dealer with almost no military experience, he seemed an odd choice to be the senior commander in the field. And he did make mistakes at first. But Currie was a fast learner. He turned out to be a brilliant general, one of the best on either side, so good that the British prime minister once suggested he should be commander of all the British and Commonwealth armies. (Of course, his success made him enemies in Canada who hounded him for the rest of his life. There were a lot of Norberts around.)
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Two letters to the editor are worth reading - one bad and one good.

The good one is "Are you ready for the future?" The writer talks about the huge problems, especially relating to environment, around us. Is our province ready? In fact, our province hasn't even started to think about it.

Then "'Giving back' is poor choice of words." because it implies money given by businessmen is not really their money, their property. Hey. They worked for it. It's theirs. They don't have to give anything back.

I have the feeling the writer is a regular church-goer, primarily because going to church is respectable.

Look. We live in a civilization - you know, an organized society. Nobody, NOBODY, makes money all by himself or herself. We need the educaton that ALL of us provide. We need the justice system and the roads and the forests and the mines that ALL of us provide. We need large numbers poor people so that Walmart can get them at minimum wage, and make its owners rich. NOBODY gets money without lifetime help from all of society.

And please don't tell me the rich work hard for their money. I've shaken hands with many of them, and I've never felt a single callous. There are single mothers with children who work a  hell of a lot harder than any Irving, and they do it for a starvation wage.

We  fight wars and the poor die to make money for the rich. (The first to volunteer in a war are the unemployed.) We all create wealth. And it belongs to all of us. And certainly, we should all get the benefit of it.

I would advise the letter writer to talk to Norbert. I think she'd like him.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 14: Sorry to be late with this one....

real life keeps getting in the way.
Monday's paper, section A, p. 1.  Big story of the day, "Metro cyclists, drivers have room to grow..." I have no idea what the point of this story is, why it is the lead headline, or why it should be in a newspaper at all.

At the bottom of p. 1 is an even bigger story. A new barber shop has opened in Moncton.

Moving right along to p. A3, there's a real story. A company in New Brunswick has asked for permission to dump fracking waste water to holding tanks in Dieppe, from there to be dumped in Dieppe's sewage system, then Moncton's, then Riverview's., then into the Petitcodiac River.

But not to worry, the plan has to be approved by the New Brunswick government which, as we know, has high standards.

Apparently, it never occurred tot he reporter to ask questions - such as - Why can't they get permission to dump it in Nova Scotia?

And that's pretty much it for section A.
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Newstoday covers a few, very few, international stories. It has a long story on Iraq which does not include the rather important information that the Isis movement which is raging through Iraq, killing people of other religious groups in the the thousands, was organized, paid for, trained, and equipped by the US government. That's the same United States government which is now arming the Kurds to attack Isis, and sending aircraft to kill Isis militants.

Isis is also moving in to fight against Syrians on both sides of the Syrian civil war - which was begun, financed, and equipped by Saudi Arabia and the US. It really makes  you wonder who's in charge in the US.  Quite seriously - American foreign policy moves are often so self-contradictory that one wonders how one person could be in control.  The answer may well be that one person isn't.  The US has so many power groups in its police-state, assassination, espionage domestic and foreign, drone bombing, its monster military all with huge budgets and almost no oversight over them or their budgets that any number of people could be running their own shows.

We think of democracy ending with a clear-cut dictatorship. But that's not always true. It can end, perhaps it has, with a swarm of uncontrolled agencies which tax payers pay for - but know nothing about.
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B4 has an important story on protests against the shooting of an eighteen-year-old boy (who was not armed) by police. Since then, it has developed into more than a protest. If violent protests spread across the US, as I think they will, this might well be how they begin. The causes will be distrust of government, severe suffering as the US economy declines and as the rich continue to eat up most of what money is available. But the spark may well be fired by racism.

Racism runs deep in the US. (And often in Canada. But we prefer not to notice it.) African-Americans have a dismal history. Kidnapped from their native lands for hundreds of years, dying in transit in their millions, thrust into a completely alien society as slaves, and given no help in adapting to a new environment that took away all the values and beliefs they had.

And they were not really freed in 1865. In practical terms, most had no vote, were publicly subordinated to white people (even stepping off the sidewalk as a white man passed), frequently hanged and terrorized almost as a sport, and, in the northern US, sent into slums by the low salaries that were the only ones  they could get, living in poverty, with schools that were far inferior, so that they grew up in an environment that militated against any advance through education. Now, in recession, it is African-Americans who suffer the most. The US is on the edge of serious and widespread violence - and it could well be sparked by centuries of a people cut off from their cultural roots, and with no chance to find any other.

Oh,  yeah - and also written off in American history. For example, how many African-American cowboys have you seen in western films? Despite a life saturated with cowboy films, I can think on only one. In reality, a large number of cowboys were African-Americans. Of course. Cowboys were just cheap labour.
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B5, bottom of the page, has the story that should have been on p.1. "Keystone climate impacts could be higher than previous studies: estimate"  The Stockholm Institute, a quite respected environmental organization says US State Department studies on the feasibility of a pipeline to carry crude oil from Alberta to Texas was faulty.  It left out a standard examination in such tests of the effect of putting more oil on the market. But the State Department didn't do it. As a result, it is likely the project will cause a far, far greater impact on world climate than the State Department estimated. The only industry answer, as reported, is gobbledy-gook.

And running a pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick would have the same effect.

So why are we so eager to pump even more greenhouses gasses into the air when we know they will destroy us? Well, it's because  pumping out more greenhouse gasses makes some people very rich. And, where money is concerned, they don't give a damn how many die. They intend to keep pumping until world catastrophe stops them, and keep raising the supply before that catastrophe hits.

Forgive me for suggesting these people are stupid, and utterly without any moral standards....and then you have the ones who say, "Duh. We need the jobs."
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We have no fewer that two columns on the burning issue of whether soccer should be played on grass or on artificial turf.

Norbert Cunningham is more than usually ignorant and even despicable in his propaganda.

This time, he pours out his venom on the unemployed, the poor, pensioners. We've got to make cuts in all that spending to balance the budget. Yes,  all them there poor and elderly people who feel entitled. They're the ones who caused the recession.. Make them pay for it.

There's not a word about the super rich and the damage they did with reduced taxes, government favours, hidden piggy banks, exploitation of the world's really poor (that's what free trade is largely about.) What the hell is that, Norbert, if not a sense of entitlement?

It was not that long ago that Mr. Irving pronounced himself a member of the government - despite the fact that nobody had elected him.  He also got the power to place his own hacks as advisors in the Finance ministry. What the hell do you call that if not a sense of entitlement? And that's the gang that sent the budget through the roof.

But Norbert says the poor and the elderly and the sick are the ones who have to pay.

Then he rattles on about how the hospitals have to face severe economies. It's obvious  he knows nothing whatever about the structures or economics of a medical system. But he rants, anyway.

That's because he knows the boots he licks every day are worn by a man who would love to see private medical care re-established.

This is not just ignorant journalism. It's disgusting, crawling, ass-kissing irresponsibility.

Oh - I notice this province always discusses things starting with cost.  (Unless it's a new hockey rink. Then we're told it really won't cost anything.) So here's a hint to the news media and the politicians of this province. Government and news are about people. So any issue should being with a discussion of human needs. Then you go to costs. Not the other way around.

Then, when we discuss costs, let's remember to include what we expect in taxes and self-dependence from the people we all have made very, very rich.
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Two letters to the editor worth looking at. One is "Letter distorted history of conflict". It's a good example of a common mistake in studying foreign affairs - to start the story in the middle.  In this case, the letter writer argues a case for Israel in its wars starting with Hamas rockets, and then starting again with the 1967 war.

The trouble with that is that the struggle began much earlier. Some would say 1948. I would say it began in the 1930s with our failure to react to Hitler's treatment of Jews.

In any case, pointing the blame finger will get nobody anywhere. To think of this as a world in which they are bad and we are good is a waste of time. There's lots of good and bad on both sides of many issues.

Then there's "Computer upgrades needed in N.B. schools"  It's by Joseph Caswell of Sackville who is just about to enter grade 8. You should especially read it if you are a person who gripes about the schools. This boy can write - I mean really well. And he's intelligent. This is first rate.
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It's late. I'm going to publish this August 14 edition having completed just the Monday half of it. I'll deal with
the Tuesday paper later tonight.

.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Aug. 9: The Blame Game...

First, something that didn't make the news in the Irving press. There's been something of a revolt at the New York Times. Reporters and editors demanded of the owners that they be allowed to use the word 'torture' in connection with the CIA. Until then, they had been forced to use terms like 'enhanced interrogation techniques'. Of course. Torture sounds crude and cruel , while enhanced 'interrogation techniques' sounds scientific and sophisticated. And that helps to brainwash the public into thinking there's nothing wrong with it.

And brainwashing is what most of the news media are about. It's always been like that going back the the press barons of the 1890s - and, often, before that. But it was become much, much worse as our news media have fallen under the control of fewer and fewer very wealthy people, and usually people with other interests to encourage. Irving ownership of much of the news media in New Brunswick springs to mind.

The staff of the New York Times has struck a blow for honesty in the news media but, ooh, it's awfully small blow at a North American media world that has become almost pure propaganda and very sophisticated mind control.

Still, it's too bad we've never seen a similar stirring of integrity and courage among reporters and editors of the Irving press.

This is one reason why I get quite annoyed by the Faith Page with its sermonettes and church activities.
This Saturday's sermonette is better than usual - though it still falls short of a need people have. We don't need clergy to tell us we should love our neighbours. That stuff is all written down in clear language.

What we need to know is how to apply those standards in the daily life of this world we live in. This is a world that economically and militarily acts in direct contradiction to virtually all Christian and Judaic teaching. But our churches, for the most part, refuse to make any connection between their teaching and the world we live in.

On the contrary, they support whatever convention demands they support. War? Yessir. The church will bless it all.

But it is often quite different in synagogues because they have a long history of the place of worship as also being a place of debate and discussion. That's illustrated in a story of the childhood of Jesus when he argued in the temple. When in Montreal, I would be invited to give talks on current events some fifty or sixty times a year. Almost all were at synagogues or other, Jewish institutions.

Audiences were normally one  hundred to several hundred. Participation was high. I was sometimes critical of Israel and that, too, encouraged debate rather than recriminations. I  couldn't help noticing, though, that when I spoke in Christian churches, it was best to avoid any serious topic at all. I think of that whenever I read that another church down here is having a strawberry tea this week.

People don't learn about events in our world from listening to the news media. It happens through regular and open discussion. In most churches (and in all aspects of New Brunswick life), no such discussion happens. I don't know whether there is village mentality that still hangs over the whole province - a fear of being noticed by neighbours as different - or whether the Irving press' practice of trivializing everything including its readers is at work.  But we all know what the result will be. In the coming provincial election, we will elect another flock of turkeys.
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And now the blame game. This happens whenever, as with Israel and Palestine, there is violence. Everybody points a finger. But you would think Canadians, of all people, would know better.

When our first ancestors arrived here, they shattered the economies, religions, social and political structures of the native peoples. Sometimes it was deliberate; sometimes not. By the mid-nineteenth century, the damage was done across Canada. And the damage is still being done.

When a society is destroyed, it is a long and painful road to adapt to the change, to preserve what can be preserved while still operating in vastly changed world. It takes centuries to make the change, and with lots of pain and suffering on the way.

And when the damage shows among native peoples in crime figures, in violence, in educational figures, we point the finger of blame at them - when it should be at us. We caused the damage. And, to make it worse, there's not a whole lot we can do to fix it. It has to be done by native people, themselves. (We've already proven that with out horrible creation of residential schools.)

Our western empires have done a similar job around the world. Because of our interference, China was a basket case for over a century. Nobody knows how many Chinese died as a result of our activities. The whole social and political structure of the country was destroyed. And it would have been even worse if the American government's puppet, Chiang Kai Shek, had been able to take over after World War Two.

Africa? Tens of millions murdered, millions enslaved, and the rest to work at starvation wages or simply to starve. Ditto in Central America.

Then there has been over a century of intrusion, killing, disrupting throughout Moslem societies, breaking down political and social life. The result, as so often in these cases, is that the religion becomes stronger than ever, and more extreme. That's what we're watching in Iraq.

Oh, are they murdering Christians? Yes, but not nearly so many as Christians do. The Germans that we bombed in World War Two were Christians. So are the Russians we are now threatening.

As for Israel, we neglected the Jews of Europe when they needed us. We knew what was going on. And we didn't lift a finger - not even after the war was over. What we did, eventually, was to give them land that wasn't ours to give. Not surprisingly, the Palestinians were annoyed at that.

Meanwhile, the Israelis, having learned they can expect nothing from anybody, treat the Palestinians with brutality, hoping to get rid of them all and take the rest of their land.

To make matters worse, the American government is encouraging the breakdown of societies, figuring it will make them easier to exploit. That's why it is encouraging Al Quaeda to fight as "rebels' against the Syrian government (and, incidentally, kill Syrian Christians). That's why the US has paid, equipped and trained the very extreme Isis movement that is destroying Iraq.

We are creating a world catastrophe which, like the one we created for native peoples, takes generations to overcome.

And the almost sole reason is so that multi-billionaires can get richer. This is stupidity and greed on a scale the world has never seen.

And we're doing it to ourselves. For more than a quarter of a century we have known of the threat of climate change. But there was a massive propaganda campaign (still going) to say it isn't happening or, if it does, we'll invent something.

Who financed this propaganda campaign? The oil industry, of course; notably the Koch brothers. The oil industry makes huge profits for some very rich people. And they intend to keep going as long as there is oil in the ground. That's why so much of the world has been so slow to take necessary measures and research. (Billionaires show a remarkable talent for ignoring the future. That's because excessive greed destroys logic - and morality..)
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So what's in the TandT for yesterday and today? Not much. Not much at all.

For Friday, the most  (only) important column is Gwynne Dyer on climate change. It's on the op ed page.

For Saturday, Bill Belliveau has a contemptible column on our budget deficits. He doesn't even mention who it it that really sets our budget. He doesn't mention the stunning tax breaks we give the very rich - or the favours and gifts we give them out of our tax money.

Nope. You know who caused this recession? It's them poor people. "The not-so-obvious causes are found in public attitudes, government dependency and a deeply entrenched sense of entitlement."

The same things were being said in the great depression of the 1930s, and were being published in scruffy   papers like the TandT. In fact, the people more dependent on government than any others are the rich. They depend on it for their tax breaks, their grants, many of their overpriced contracts and, of course, they depend on us to pay for their wars (and most wars are for them) - thought their enlistment rate is not high.

A sense of entitlement. Damn right we have one. We're entitled to have a government that governs for us, one that ensures we get a fair share of the money our work produces. (No wage gap.) Nobody writing for the TandT has even had the courage (or maybe the intelligence) to mention the very rich, and their role in our economic problems.

Brent Mazerolle has the best opinion column I've ever seen him produce. It's a very human and very effectively told story of changes he's gone through in how he sees the world. This is well worth a read.

Gwynne Dyer is the other must read for Saturday. He takes the spread of Ebola, and explains why it's going to take so long to supply medication for it.  In brief - it's going to take a long time because the big drug companies don't see enough profit in it.

Now, I'm not talking here of your local pharmacists. I'm talking of another breed, the corporation bosses who control the big drug companies. These have a long history of being the greediest and least moral species in creation. When we or the US send drugs as foreign aid to countries ravaged by disease, these big drug companies make deals to sell the drugs to the government as such exorbitant prices that the actual  shipments are much smaller than might have been expected - and people die. This is one of Dyer's best columns.
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In Saturday's letters is "Israel is protecting its citizens". Mark David of Centre for Israel and Jewish affairs has a couple of pretty serious mistakes.
1. The story of a well-financed Israeli lobby operating among American and Canadian politicians has been well-known for years. In the US, it undoubtedly has the power to make the difference in elections. They're also trying it  here - and Stephen Harper  is deeply involved. It is quite possible, and well known to any political pundit I have ever met. Indeed, I was in conversation with a leading figure of the Israeli lobby just a few days ago. He defined me, as I recall it, as failure as a teacher (he knew nothing about my teaching) and a tragedy as a human being.
2. Then David goes on to say that criticizing Israel is "anti-semitic".  Talk to your bosses, David, they've dropped the use of anti-semitic in favour of - "anti-Jewish". That's because most Jews in Israel are not semites.  The word semite refers to a language group with its history in the middle east. However, it seems that European Jews are largely descended from European converts of a very long time ago.

The Jews who are semites, most of them, are the ones who stayed in the middle east. Many of them were Palestinians who live quite peacefully with their arab neighbours.

All arabs ARE semites. So if you're accusing someone of being anti-semitic, you're saying he's anti-arab. And I think that makes you, Mark, an anti-semite.

Oh, you must know some Jews. Note their complexions. Some, few in Canada. have an olive (Mediterranean) complexion. Those are semites. Most have the complexion of - well - of the Europeans they are.
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Sorry to take so long. There was so little in the TandT that I thought it better to speak in general terms. And, oh my, it did run on.

I should add I had a couple letters that I didn't publish. This is a person I've heard from before, I'm sure, though he never has the courage to give his name. He writes to ridicule me - and that's okay. (I'd be more worried if he approved of me.) But he was also very coarse and vulgar. So I thought I really couldn't publish that.