Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 31: Thoughts of childhood....

I grew up in the North End of Montreal, not far from where Little Italy was, and where the community's church still serves. Mafia leader Rizutto recently put it in the news when his funeral was held there. Just to the east of it was the Syrian district.My school friends were largely Italians and Syrians. I remember them well, especially the Syrians.

There was Junior Aboud, a quiet kid who still lives in the north end flat he was born in. The Ayoub boys were great friends of mine. So was "Zarbie" Zarbatani, the son on the Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox church.  (The Bishop's 'palace' was a second storey flat over a dime store.)

Zarbie was short and severely crippled from polio. But he had an upper body, even in elementary school, that Tarzan would have envied. And he needed it. A small,  crippled boy in our district wasn't an object of sympathy. He was a target.

They were all abysmally poor. But they did well. Zarbie became a lawyer. The father of one of the boys had a small, convenience store which became a chain of general stores - which became the first of the dollar stores.

Now, the Zarbatanis and the Ayoubs and the Bosadas who were left behind in Syria are being slaughtered in their tens of thousands by very extreme Arab movements that are trained, equipped and paid for by Saudi Arabia and - Obama. That's the same Obama who preached to Russia that he shouldn't invade a country which (in fact) Russia had not invaded, that invasion was bad and illegal (neatly ignoring the many US invasions and mass killings of the past sixty years.

At the same time, Obama and Stephen Harper rigidly defend an Israel that has killed a thousand or so innocent civilians, that targets UN relief workers and ambulances and medical facilities, and that deliberately attacked a UN school, knowing what it was, and knowing it was full of children.

Their pretence is that Hamas started it with rocket fire on Israel. Both know this started over sixty years ago, and has been sustained by Israel's refusal to accept any peaceful solution, and by its constant abuse (and killing) of Palestinians.

And I read recent statements by Obama and Harper giving full support to Israel. And I can only think, "YOU MURDEROUS BASTARDS."

Neither, of course, cares about Syrians or Jews or Moslems. Obama wants, through Israel, a strategic foothold in the middle   east. Harper, thinking only of himself, wants the Jewish-Canadian vote. And he's quite happy  to let people die for that.

Just beyond the Little Italy of my childhood was what was then the Jewish ghetto. It was full of the most wonderful people I had ever known - compassionate, charitable, loving, involved, intellectually active, they also had a very effective community service called B'Nai Brith. They were all that Christians claim to be but rarely are.

Now, B'Nai Brith just pushes hate propaganda as an agent of the Israeli lobby that spends billions in Canada and the US. The Jewish community I knew is just about gone.

Allied with this is the "war on terror". It's a cute title that nicely ignores the fact that the biggest terrorist in the world is the American government. And the war on terror has been a failure. Of course. All it has done is to create far bigger and more extremist movements. Hatred works like that.

We also daily read or hear of something we can call "the war on the poor". You'll see a good deal of it in the TandT. The very wealthy, out of greed, often made worse by their criminal behaviour, have created enormous poverty to enrich themselves. The result is that not much money is left for the rest of us.

The answer? Well, an obvious one is to tax the rich and withdraw their many privileges. But we won't do that. That's why you daily read hatred for the poor in the TandT. It's the poor, they say, that caused the recession with all those frills like heath care and education. So now it's the poor who have to erase the debt by paying higher taxes, and handing over health care and, maybe, education to private business.

That's why countries like Greece and Ireland and Spain have sunken deep in poverty. That's one of the reasons the new Ukraine government broke up. The leader was a billionaire and a friend of the world's bankers. The others weren't, and walked out on him.

Now, the creation of poverty in the US is so severe (and the corruption of government contracts, especially military ones) so scandalous that the US police forces are being retrained to fight the American people.

There is such a thing as morality. And it's not just being goody-goody. There are practical reasons for having moral codes. We are watching a world collapse because our leaders have completely detached themselves from any morality. And so have our churches. And so have we.

That's quite a prologue - because there isn't much in the papers for yesterday and today.

Unless you really care about a story of a cat who lost weight, the only, real news story in Section A for Wednesday is that two shale gas protesters were sentenced to jail terms. Understandable. They broke the law.

Shale gas companies never get jail time for what they do. Nor bankers who make it possible for the very wealthy to steal billions. Of course not. Why would they break the law? After all, the law is written to protect them, not to protect those who suffer from their behaviour.

Section A for Thursday is worse. there are at least two pages of story about a golf tournament to raise money for our police. And it is accompanied by some two pages of colour photos of the tournament, Most of them are of people doing nothing in particular. The rest are of people doing nothing of interest.

In NewsToday, there is actually some news - though the reporters don't seem to realize it. Israel's deliberate killing of civilians extended to a refugee camp which it shelled. Then there is the strength of Hamas' resolve in the face of overwhelming Israel military power. Why are they fighting so hard? It should be obvious.

They have  no choice. They have been living in miserable and hopeless circumstances for over sixty years. If they surrender now, it goes on forever. This is the last-ditch, suicide attempt of a desperate people.

Nor is Netanyahu going to offer  any reasonable terms. He wants Palestine, all of it. And he wants its people gone.

Libya is descending into utter chaos, another triumph of US foreign policy. And, take a bow, we did our share. We sent aircraft to bomb Libya, and create this suffering. Aren't you proud to be a Canadian?

Generally, though, the paper gives no hint of the number of wars going on or the savagery of them. And there's nothing about the US drones killing daily. Nor would most Canadians care if they did know. Our news media have taught us to hate whoever we're told to hate. We are dangerously close to being world racists. And maybe more than close.
Among the columnists, Alec Bruce has a kiss-up column for The New Brunswick Business Council in the July 30 edition. It supports all the council wants to make the poor rather than the rich pay for the financial problems that have been caused by the rich.

He praises the council as being made up of demonstrably successful men. Yes. They've been successful at milking our economy to make themselves rich.  Mr. Bruce, that does not qualify them to run a province any more than being a successful bank robber qualifies one to run a bank.

Oh, yeah,  he also thinks we just gotta develop shale gas. My,  it must be nice to be a business columnist who knows more about shale gas than most scientists and the medical   profession do. After reading Alec Bruce's column, turn to letter to the editor, "Shale gas won't save economy".

Brian Cormier again has nothing to say but, again, says it, anyway.

For the Friday edition, Alec Bruce is back in good form.

Norbert has a stunningly ignorant piece about the high professional codes of journalists. There are some media companies that have high professional codes - but very, very few. From the earliest days of the modern newspaper (1890s), newspaper have been used to spread the propaganda their owners wanted spread. There was an excellent movie about it - Citizen Kane. There's also a good book about the history of war reporting over the years, and how it has been used to lie. It's called "The First Casualty".

And it's far, far worse today as so much or our news media are owned by a very few and very wealthy people. You should know that, Norbert. You have spent much your life writing the propaganda the boss wants. I have known and worked with heads of journalism schools. All of them agreed that the Irving press has no professional standards whatever, and the rest are sliding downhill.

Worse, the news media have a large share in creating hatred in this world - whatever hatred is useful to their bosses. It makes us more willing to kill.

Norbert, you really should follow the invitation of the Irving Chapel. Go to it, Sit in its holy shelter, and contemplate. I'm sure the Irvings do it all the time. That's why they're such moral people.

Rod Allen is still writing acned high school essays. Good column by Beth Lyons. It may, at first, seem a trivial one. But it raises a penetrating question about our respect for others - and our often unconcious demonstrations of contempt for what those others are.

Ooh, Ooh, Ooh - big news. The Liberal party has released its OFFICIAL election slogan ----


Oh, I'm so excited. All it needs is a tune, and we'd have a solid hit.

Moving New Brunswick Forward.
That's what Lib'rals do.
No, not moving it backwards.
Like some cowfield poo.
    ya, ya, ya....

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29: It's noon - and my morning paper is still not here... let me start with a sermonette on two stories that go back several days, and were quite uncritically reported on.I'm starting it  in a religious context; but don't be alarmed. That's only because religion is really quite secular.

Christians are told "to love thy neighbour". Good idea. But it gets screwed up by being tied to the concept that if you don't "love they neighbour", then you'll  be tortured in horrible pain and go down to the burning flames of hell for ETERNITY, while those who have been saved (which only counts if it's salvation by believing in Jesus) and have loved their neighbours will be allowed to go to heaven and spend eternity clapping hands and shouting Rah! Rah! God. Go, Jesus, go!

The trouble with that theory is that you cannot do good for your neighbour if you are doing it to escape hell, and still be acting out of love for your neighbour. In reality, you're doing it out of love for yourself. That's what makes so many "saved" Christians into self-righteous pains in the ass.

J.D. Irving (who named his church after his family - a bit of belly-button contemplation, there) was recently elevated to a philanthropy hall of fame which was celebrated at an expensive luncheon attended by his wealthy followers.

Well, anyone who makes a donation out of love for his neighbour, and for no other reason, would find such publicity and celebration of his act embarassing and distasteful, This is not love for one's neighbour. This is love for oneself.

In a similar, but worse case, Rob Irving was feted in similar style for his many gifts to the community. This came in the form of a presentation from Rotary. (Rotary is used by business to present an image that it really, really cares about the community. It's also used by big business to convince small business that it and they are the the same, and have the same interests.) In this case, there was at least one, amusing aspect, as Mr. Irving was put into the same category as Mother Theresa. But there was something much worse.

Mr. Irving put the whole affair into a business context, as though this were some sort of buying and selling deal. The theme of  his talk at this ceremony was that you have to put something back to the community. It's as though you've bought something, and you then have to pay for it.

1. If Mr. Irving was paying back, he was doing it at a damned cheap price because all his charities are only a tiny fraction of what he has taken out.

2. Anyway, giving has nothing to do with paying back. Giving is loving your neighbour. That's why it is done. It may be giving to someone who has never given you anything. It's not a payment. It's not a reward. It's love. That's why Mr. Irving should not be confused, not even in a dark room, with Mother Theresa.

What might be a demonstration of love would be for the Irvngs and their kiss-up friends who hold expensive banquets to praise them would be for the Irvings to pay rather more tax than they do.
In Monday's paper, read A1 "Business leaders seek honesty from party leaders". That, if you read the article, is a dishonest headline. It's about the coming budget, and business leaders are NOT seeking honesty. They are speaking of measures beneficial to them which they want to see in the budget.

What they want is higher taxes (for you) and massive cuts in government services (to you). This is a move all over the western world (including Ukraine, incidentally) and which was done in the depression of the 1930s. Make the poor  suffer and even starve for the mess the rich have created.

This didn't work in the 1930s and, despite the babbling of Norbert (who read an Irving-approved book on the subject) it won't work now. As a direct result of these policies, US households now have a net worth that is 36% of what it was a dozen years ago. Of course, the net worth of the U.S. rich has risen spectacularly in that time.

We're not speaking of minor inconveniences here. We're speaking of real suffering in living conditions, education, health care, life expectancy, hopelessness.

The Business Council in this story is not talking about honesty. It's talking about its greed, its cruelty, its indifference to others - and its ignorance of economics.
Also in the Monday edition, Alec Bruce has the only intelligent and informed column on the budget I have ever seen in an Irving paper.
Oh, B3 for Monday has an excellent story on Therese Casgrain. She was a leader in campaigning for women's rights in Quebec before World War 1.  No big deal? In fact, official opposition to women's rights from both church and state was probably stronger at the time in Quebec than anywhere else in Canada. Violence, especially from the authorities, was a constant hazard. It was such a tough fight that women in Quebec did not get the right to vote until 1940.

She remained politicially active all her life, becoming the first woman in Canada to lead a political party - the Quebec wing of the CCF which was then socialist. No big deal? These were the years of Duplessis when the provincial police were used as hired thugs. One could be in for a very severe police beating for criticizing Duplessis.

In short, Mme.  Casgrain was everything Harper is not - courageous, intelligent compassionate, loving...

So Harper has removed her picture from the fifty dollar bill, and from a national volunteer award. Maybe we'll get Rob Irving on the fifty $ bill  wearing his ragged Mother Theresa dress.

Oh, a catchup. Remember that story that a pricey boutique is opening in Moncton? The reason for that was published in the Calgary Herald, but missed by  the eagle eyes of TandT editors.

Across Canada and the US, stores like Target for commonfolk, are losing ground. The big rush is to get expensive boutiques in the malls. Because people have more money? No. In fact, most people have less money.  But the rich are getting much, much richer. That's what the wage gap is all about. And that's why Target in closing in Moncton, but Victoria's Secret is moving in. It's happening all across Canada.
Most of Tuesday's paper is a dead loss.

The editorial is a call for people not to make bonfires in their yards. Well, at least that's  topic within the intellectual grasp of the editorial writers. And Norbert writes another kiss-up column on why we should have the kind provincial budget Mr. Irving wants - one that will impoverish us so that he can get richer.

But there are two, good items. Alec Bruce is solid on the idiocy of Canada Revenue's treatment of charities. In fact, Harper has politicized charities so that what they do and who they help is controlled by him. Harper's obsessions with control and power are not only serious threats to democracy. They suggest a man who needs - at least - psychological treatment. And I don't say that lightly.

Then there's an excellent piece on the oped page, "Privatization is not the answer to Canada's health care woes." Privatization of health care is in the gunsights of the very rich. But every study I have ever seen, many from the UN, says that private health care is far more expensive that public care, far less efficient - and out of reach for most.  The US is consistently ranked as providing the worst health care in the developed world. It is lower than Canada - and Canada is not great, largely because we tolerate gross overpricing by drug companies.

But private care would make the rich much richer. So we can expect lots of propaganda and attacks on the fringes of it. This is really an excellent op ed piece on the subject.
The foreign news stories are useless. Here's a shortcut understanding of what's going on.

1. The war in Israel is going to get much worse. Hamas cannot stop fighting without allowing Israel to go on abusing Palestine as it has for over sixty years. Israel can't stop fighting because it wants to destroy Palestine, and take all its land. Who will win?
In the short run, Israel might, especially if the US joins  in, and if Harper then honours his very political promise to stand by Israel. So get ready to send Canadians to kill and to die so that Harper can win the next election.
In the long run, Israel loses after a war horrible by any standard. The  west, by its interference, bullying and killing for over a century has created the form of Islam that we call "estremists". The US has been paying, training and equipping these "extremists" for years to kill Syrians. And they are now a major political and economic force as they sweep through Iraq, heading for Syria and Lebanon and Palestine.
Of all the countries in this world that need peace, Israel is the leader. But it has wrecked every peace attempt ever tried. Instead, it has aimed for a military domination that is not sustainable. And it's now about to learn that nuclear rockets are very little help in dealing with enemies that are close by.
(And please spare me the mindless crap that Israel is just defending itself from rocket attacks. Do you think Hamas is shooting rockets just because it's a bunch of evil foreigners? They were shooting back at generations of abuse by Israel.)
2.The government of Ukraine is in deep trouble. When the US helped it to overthrow the elected government, one objective was to make the poor pay for the economic crisis created by the rich. The rich of Ukraine have long ago sent their money to safe havens. But the international monetary fund and the banks want the money owing to them. It is not an accident that the first president after the coup was an international banker. The elected, billionaire president is the same breed.

Not long ago, a bill was prepared to make the poor pay for bills run up by the billionaires, to reduce the country to poverty. This caused the important coalition parties (largely Nazi and fascist) to resign - and to force an election.

But Kiev has to go on fighting because it has to kill ALL the Russians in the eastern Ukraine. This is the 'final solution'. But they have no money. They need the west (NATO) to step into the war and end it quickly. And Harper has already promised full support, and sent troops and aircraft to the region.

Putin will have to react. and any such war would become nuclear. But how to get people to react? I know. Shoot down a passenger airliner, and say the Russians did it.

As I said earlier, the shooting down of an airliner is not a very good reason to start a war that would kill millions, whether nuclear or conventional. But it's a great, emotional trigger. And Obama has used it with constant threats ever since.  Obama wants a war.

Incidentally, some years back the USS Vincennes shot down an airliner, killing 290. But they were mostly Iranians, so that was okay. The captain claimed it was diving toward him, and looked like a fighter plane. Later, at an enquiry, he admitted it was an airbus, and it wasn't diving - but he never said why he shot it down. Some seven years later, the US issued an informal apology. And that was it.

3. Libya is an excellent example of the godawful foreign policy of the US. They destroyed a nation because the leader wanted a better share of the oil revenues. ( Oh, I know, I know. Ghadaffi was a bad man. Yes. So it was worth sending our pilots to kill people so they could get him assassinated.)
You want to talk bad men? How about Bush and Blair who lied and who killed by the million? And, for that matter, how about Obama?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

July 26: Goguen gets a free, political ad....

Check p. A4 of Friday's TandT, "N.B. wharves get funds."  The whole story  is simply a prepared statement by Robert Goguen. It's a pretty boring statement as in "Our government is pleased to invest in these facilities  to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of the commercial fishing industry, and stimulate local economies."

It's stiff, formal, trite, obviously written in advance. This was handed to the paper and, obviously, the reporter didn't ask a single question. This is just a free, political ad.

Goguen's party is big on free, political ads. The biggie was Harper's flight to Israel, taking along a couple of hundred of his most reliable Jewish-Canadian voters at a cost of millions to Canadian taxpayers. Meanwhile, he's cracking down on charities that make any statements that could have political implications. Oxfam,, for example, is one of his leading targets. He intends to end their tax-free status. (Of course, the trip for Harper and his buddies to Israel had no political implications.)

The other big news in Friday's section A is that Victoria's Secret is opening a store in Moncton. And that's it.
The editorial - oh, the editorial....  It has an amazingly pointless offering for Friday. The manager of Magnetic Hill Zoo, it says, is a good choice to head a study on the ownership of exotic pets in the province. Well...duh....I guess the manager of a zoo would be a good choice for that. And what will the next gem of insight be? That it's useful to have an umbrella in the rain?

The trouble is that the editorial board obviously doesn't have a clue about anything. That's why you will never see an editorial worth reading in this paper.

As compensation, Alec Bruce has an excellent column on a subject I mentioned about - Harper's war on charities.

David Suzuki has a good piece on how some Canadian cities are developing plans to cope with climate change. He doesn't mention Moncton. Obviously, he doesn't know about the plan to install more air conditioners in the mayor's office.

The last page of Friday's paper has a letter to the editor that is ranting, slanderous, and mostly wrong. "Liberal media slants Middle East news.

First, the writer doesn't know what the word liberal means - but we'll skip by that. She accuses much of our news media of being anti-Israel. Perhaps she could name one? As well as teaching, I worked as a news commentator for a dozen years for CBC and a dozen more for private radio - and wrote for major newspapers, and regularly appeared on our major TV networks. In that time, I never came across a trace of anti-Israel sentiment. Nor did I see a trace of anything liberal in them - whether using the letter writer's definition of liberal or the correct one.

The CBC often has to tone down what it say - or it gives Harper even more reason to close it down. But I never saw much bias in it.

Her history of the conflict is also off the wall. Palestinians did NOT start the war. In fact, arabs and Jews of the region lived together for thousands of years in peace. Hostilities started at the end of World War Two, When European Jews fled Europe, and entered Palestine illegally to found a Jewish nation.

Why didn't they come here to Canada? Because Canada and most western nations were anti-Jewish. That's right. Before, during, and after the war, countries like this one would not do a damn thing for the Jews. So they headed for the Middle East. You want to see who started that war? Look in a mirror.

The Jewish invaders formed terrorist groups. So the UN gave it a large part of Palestine. (It wasn't the UN's to give.) From then on, Israel has maintained a death grip on Palestinians, keeping them in poverty, invading routinely, arresting, torturing, killing. Right now, Hamas is not shooting at Israel as a aggressor. It is shooting to defend itself.

And Israel doesn't kill civilians? Gee. It must be civilians killing each other.

Palestine is not a theocracy.. Israel comes much closer to being one. Palestine does not forbid religious freedom - nor would it be necessary when Christians are not lining up to live in a poverty-stricken country so they can get shot at by Israeli troops.

The situation in the Middle East is one for which we are all to blame. And it has been made infinitely worse by American policies. Ranting to create hatred, and putting all the blame on the victims is no help.

NewsToday has a good story on its page 1 about Harper's treatment of charities. The reporters didn't just print whatever they were told to, but asked questions, and pointed out obvious problems with the official version.

It also has a story of how 15 were killed when Israel tanks shelled a UN school in Gaza. The sub-head says the school was caught in a crossfire.??????????

A crossfire occurs when two sides shoot at each other, and an innocent person is killed in the middle.  But there weren't two sides shooting at each other. It was just Israeli tanks - shooting at a school. Was this a deliberate attempt to put some of the blame on Palestinians? Probably not. It was more likely an editor at the TandT who didn't have a dictionary.

The last page of NewsToday has a small story on Ukraine.- with a surprising gap. Two days ago, Russia announced that it has a satellite picture of a fighter plane closing in on the Malaysia passenger airliner. It was a plane of a type to be found in the Ukraine air force.

Funny thing. When Obama said it was all Russia's responsibility, the papers printed it without question - even though there is no way Obama could have known that at the time he said it. (and cannot know it even now). But, then, in our "liberal" press, what Obama says gets passed on as gospel. And what those nasty Russians say isn't even reported.


Saturday's section A has nothing at all but another piece of propaganda about entrepreneurship, and how it creates prosperity. As usual, it is really about small entrepreneurs. And it's nonsense. Entrepreneurs of any sort usually create prosperity only for themselves. That's what they're all about. Nothing wrong with that. But to suggest that the future of NB can be built on entrepreneurs is pure drivel. It's really part of the propaganda to convince us that private is good; government is bad.

On the editorial page, Bill Belliveau read a book. I'm so happy for him. It's the one that's required reading for all TandT staff, the one on how the NB economy is going off a cliff. And it gives an answer pleasing to Irving (wild applause). Cut government services. Make the poor pay.

Look. Before we write about cures, we have to check what the disease is. Why are we over budget so badly?  Take a look at the wage gap. Take a look  at the vast sums Irving and company take out of this province. Take a look at the taxes they don't pay. Maybe some of our solution is in there.

We made exactly the same mistake in the great depression of the 1930s. Result? Big business then, like now, made its biggest profits in history. And kept them. Hundreds of millions suffered, and suffered dreadfully

In all of these dreadful newspapers I plough through, I have never seen a single word about the role of the rich in making us poor, and keeping us poor.

Gwynne Dyer has an excellent column about how US intelligence people are out of control. We are, in fact, very close to a take-over of the state by its spies and hired assassins.

I have three pages of notes on stories the editors at the TandT just a few.....

The Ukrainian government has collapsed, and it did so in plenty of time to make Saturday's paper. That means an election in the middle of a civil war. So I don't think it will be anything we could call democratic.

It collapsed mostly because it was a coalition of parties - and two of the strongest pulled out. One of them was Svoboda, a popular party and one that was prominent in the cabinet.  Oh, it's also Nazi. Our news media never told us that. And I'm not exaggerating. This is not a party with some Nazi tendencies, and I am not calling it names.  It's the real thing - Hitler's Nazi Party They have the brownshirt uniform, a crest that look much like the swastika, and they want a "racially pure" Ukraine (no Jews, no Russian-speaking.) Say "Heil" to the boys our our side.

Mr. Baird, our foreign minister, went on a very popular, very, very far right wing talk show where he listened without interrupting when the host went off into wild rants against Obama whom he several times called a  'communist'.. He asked Baird if Canada had a problem like the US with its news media.

"Yes', said Baird, " There's a significant left-wing media bias, an anti-Israel bias, in a lot of Canadian media."

"But we don't' care what they  think."

I was so proud to hear a Canadian speaking out like that.

Then there's a new book out. The story is in the The Times of Israel - which our editors don't read, I guess. The book, by Daniel Harper, is "Clinton, Inc. the Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine". The sources come from people in intelligence and others who were witnesses.

It seems that Britain, Russia and Israel were taping White House phone calls in the Clinton era. They had tapes that included 30 hours of steamy conversations between Clinton and a young woman named Monica Lewinsky who used to  visit the Oval Office to assist him with, you know, personal things.

Netanyahu tried to use the information to blackmail Clinton to release a man imprisoned for life for selling US secrets to Israel. A witness to this says that Clinton was visibly stunned. He tried to get the man released; but the CIA Director threatened to resign and to make it all public if he did.

If you can't find it The Times of Israel, it's on the web at Information Clearing House for Friday.

Oh, Oh, Oh. Big, kiss-up story by Brent Mazerolle on page 1 for Saturday. Robert Irving has been given the top award of Rotary for his community services. Yes. An earlier winner was Mother Theresa. She would be so proud, now, to have the same award as Robert Irving. And whenever I see a picture of Robert Irving, now, I'll see Mother Theresa, and think of how both of them shared everything they had.

He said that helping out doesn't necessarily mean getting  a tax deduction on your tax form. No, indeed. But it's a hell of a good excuse for not paying much taxes in the first place.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 24:"Metro's first Tim's to be rebuilt"

Yes. it's on the front page. I mean, this is big. After all, the site is the same one as the first Tim's ever built outside Ontario. A couple of days ago, there was a first page story on how the restaurant just got closed. And there was a picture so you could see it was closed. And there is a picture in the new story, too, for those who still don't know what a Tim's looks like.

There's an interesting story on A4, "Francophone women's group sets out demands before vote." But it goes downhill from there. P. A3, for example, has a story on provincial liquor sales. This is the only newspaper I  have ever seen that regularly has stories about liquor sales.

April 22 had a memorable quotation by Norbert. It was in The Last Words section of his column. He quotes UK Labour Party leader Ed Milliband, "A company is not accountable just to its owner, but to its workers and customers."

That's important because it's a statement of the general principles that should lie behind actions. In this election time, we should not be arguing about specific policies so much as we should be learning about the moral principles on which they are based. I really have no interest in what a party policy is on spending more or spending less.  The real question is - what principles is the budget based on?

What view does a party have of  society? What responsibility do various groups have? What is their view of how people should treat each other? What is the purpose of government?

Yes, yes. We can hear later on the specifics of the party's programme. But first, I would like to know what social principles ( morality, if you like) that programme is based on. What are the moral and social principals behind maintaining a low, minimum wage? What are the moral and social principles behind fracking for shale gas? What are the moral and social principles behind leaving it up to volunteers to feed the hungry?

Forget all the babble about policies. Ask what the moral and social principles behind those policies are.
I wish Norbert  would follow the advice of his own quotations. His column for July 24 is a loutish, ignorant, name-calling rant. He attacks Elizabeth May of the Green Party for being a ideologue. He accuses her of being unfair, lacking knowledge, and he raves about how big corporations really, really care about us, and are always looking for ways to help us, and make our lives fuller.

Norbert, you don't know what the word ideologue means. Elizabeth May is not an ideologue, You, on the other hand, are. You have made your living as an ideologue for big business, and a toady.

She has a "paranoid" belief that politicians who disagree with her "bow dutifully" to the wealthy? What's paranoid about that? Your stinking paper bows dutifully to the rich every day. And, oh, you are crashingly ignorant of how it all works - or you're lying. The latter might be the reason why you offer no evidence for your opinons. You just rant and call names.

The wealthy (read Irvings) give generously to our universities? Norbert, I taught in universities for forty years. I was well acquainted with the members of the boards and their motives. They don't give money to universities. They buy universities. Remember the recent case of the UdeM prof who had to resign because he had faked his credentials? Remember who  his connections were?

Remember when Irving illegally announced he was in coalition with the government, and then called a conference to plan the economic future of New Brunswick? We had elected a government to do that, not Mr. Irving. Nor do we have any reason to believe he has a clue about how to run a provincial budget.

And the university presidents? We didn't elect them, either. But they all turned out at Mr. Irving's call to plan the future - a  subject of which they knew nothing, either. And then Irving appointed his toadies to be "advisors" to the Minister of Finance. Democracy in action.

And neither you nor your stinking rag of a newspaper said a word. And then Norbert combines insulting with ignorance and lying.

He says everybody pursues self-interest. Really? When our service men and women died in war, were they just pursuing self-interest? Boy, they'll have to get you to speak on Nov. 11. When Tommy Douglas introduced medicare, what self-interest was he pursuing? And what possible self-interest is ms. May pursuing in her politics?

Then, contradicting himself and common sense, he says that corporation leaders do not pursue their self-interests. No. They do things just for us.

This column is the most contemptible, slurring, ass-kissing and ignorant I have ever seen in any newspaper.

There are excellent columns by Alec Bruce and Jody Dallaire. Both are high recommended for reading. They're well-informed, fair-minded, and well-written.
In NewsToday, there is nothing on Ukraine. Now, that's kind of strange because it's only a few days ago that Obama captured headlines by saying Russia shot down the Malaysian airliner. But on July 22, US intelligence  held a news conference for most major US news media to say they have no evidence whatever that Russia shot it down. Then it got worse.

It was a photo of the crew at the rocket battery that it says did the shooting.'s like this....
they're wearing Ukrainian army uniforms. Yeah, mean....if you think about it, said the experts.... could be they were Ukrainian army soldiers who had deserted to the rebels...

Never  mind the obvious. Defectors who were still wearing their Ukrainians army uniforms while fighting on the rebel side? They would have to be insane.

In fact, it makes sense that it was Ukrainian soldiers. Russia gains nothing from shooting down an airliner. The Ukraine government gains everything.

But not to worry. Thanks to Obama's speech, most North Americans will go on believing it was Putin himself who ordered it.

How could editors miss such an important story? Well, it's partly because they're pretty lazy. They buy news from only a few news sources - and then they print them at random. So they miss a lot. As well, most of them seem to understand very little about news - and what is important and what is not. You'll notice that the staff writers drawn from editors and reporters almost never comment on foreign affairs. That's probably because they just don't have a clue about them.

There's quite a bit of reporting on the fighting in Gaza - and the reporting is better and fairer than usual.

Then there's the story about the Canadian who has been charged with going overseas to fight with a terrorist group. - uh - yeah... But - all armies---ALL----are terrorist groups. All of them use terror as a weapon. In World War Two, All sides used bombers deliberately to spread terror. That's why the first nuclear bombs were dropped on two Japanese cities that had no significant military targets. The purpose was to spread terror, and that's best done on civilians.

The US has been using drones for years for terror bombing. They won't say how many they've killed; and they won't say how many are innocent civilians and children. Torture is certainly terrorism.

Now, if a Canadian were to volunteer in the US military to work with drones or to be a torturer, would the government be charging him with terrorism? You know they wouldn't. And there's another legal problem.

How can a Canadian be charged with a crime that a)was not committed in Canada and b) is not a crime in the country where it was committed?

And, oh yeah, law and order Harper has announced that, unlike us mortals, he doesn't have to obey a court order to testify in the case concerning Mike Duffy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23: With the world in flames, the big story is...

..Magnetic Hill zoo's Asian exhibit should open in September. There's also a fast-breaking story that a Harvey's  restaurant has closed. It's true, too. There's even a photo of it - and you can tell it's closed. And you know what? Harvey's  cooks meat on an open flame, and you can choose your own toppings. Somebody actually when to journalism school to learn how to write this mindless bilge.  But it's important news in the Irving press..

The main function of the Irving press is to keep people uninformed about what's happening., to keep them walking around with their noses stuck firmly in their own bellybuttons. Keep them trivial. Keep them unthinking. Keep them uninformed. That's why a big story with photo on p. A3 is about a food trailer that just opened to sell hot dogs and fries.

And that's the news YOU need to know.

On July 23, there's a front page story by Brent Mazerolle that the city is tearing own dilapidated buildings.The reason is that last year, a homeless man crept into one for shelter, and died when it caught fire.
There are surely two problems here.

One problem is dilapidated buildings. The other is homeless people. We're solving the first one. Now, what about the second one? Brent doesn't even ask the question. This "story" is not journalism of any kind. This is simply a press statement by the fire department.

Oh, I know. We could convert the Irving Chapel into apartments for the homeless. Then it would genuinely have a Christian purpose.

July 23, A5, has a story about an "Organization that helps francophone students prospers" (Prospers is their spelling, not mine.) The province is giving it $50,000. Once again, we're seeing an outside body moving in on the schools - and getting taxpayers' money for it. There is no mention that these people  have any training in education but o-o-o-ooh, they're business people - and business people know just everything. It's another giant step toward privatization of our educaton system.

And what's the main thing they'll be teaching? Why, entrepreneurship. Yes. The more entrepreneurs you have the better. That's the key to prosperity.

Like hell, it is.Common sense tells us we cannot live as a society of entrepreneurs They are a small minority and will always be a minority. If it were otherwise, where would the Irvings get all those employees that they must have?

The idea of entrepreneurial programmes in the schools is largely propaganda for the notion that entrepreneurs are a sort of intellectual and practical elite of our society. And the idea that they have the qualification to dabble in education is nonsense. This is an attempt to muscle  in on our schools, and sneak in privatization (using public money). It's been done on a large scale in he US - with the result that the US now has the lowest standards of education in the developed world.

If New Brunswickers hope to survive, they are going to have to develop a bit of courage, and take back their own province.

Much of the world is killing; and much of the killing is civilians. The case we hear most of involves 289 people killed  in an airliner.We get barely a word about the many thousands who have been killed by US drones. The American government doesn't release figures. And, in any case, it won't announce how many innocent civilians were killed.

No big deal. Our news media don't even ask. Hamas fires rockets that kill, I believe, 3 people. Big news. Horror. Savages.The reporting is heavy on propaganda and how terrible it must be to live under that rocket fire. How do they think it must feel to live in Pakistan or Sudan where people, often innocent ones,
 have for years lived under a rain of American rockets? What was it like in Libya with Canadian aircraft firing rockets at it? Is it nicer to be shot at by Canadians?

Hamas, it is claimed - with no evidence at all - killed three, Israeli hitchhikers. That's terrible. The US killed, raped, pillaged, displaced uncounted millions, mostly innocent civilians and of all ages, including babies.Where was our indignation at that?

In the midst of all these murders, largely of innocent civilians, a civilian airliner is downed with a cost of 289 lives. Heck, compared with the US killing of millions in innocent civilians on the ground (not to mention the downing of  two civilians airliners by the American government), this is small stuff. So why the excitement about it?

Two reasons

We are, almost all of us, bigots, and out news media h ave encouraged out bigotry by the way it portrayed the side we were killing. Result - we really didn't care how many Iraqis or Syrians got killed.

Second - In PR terms the shooting down of an airliner is sexy stuff. It grabs people's attention. You can murder civilians to your heart's content. No criticism. But if they're in an airplane - watch out.

That's why the shooting down of that airline looks to me like a propaganda stunt. That's why I don't believe Putin did it.  It is no advantage to him, whatever. But it has a lot of benefits for the government of Ukraine.

Incidentally, the Ukraine government very high death rates of innocent people by shelling residential areas of rebel cities. But nobody cares. I mean, it's not as if there were in airliners.

Rob Robichaud, the man who had much to do with the creation of Moncton's modern airport, died recently. The editorial is a eulogy to him. Okay. But so does Alan Cochrane's column on the page facing it. Editors who were awake would not have allowed that.

Alec Bruce had a good column on Mike Duffy; though it leaves yet another question about him unexplored. For many years, he was a prominent reporter and commentator for CBC television. And that makes one wonder.

Was he, in those days, an honest reporter? It's hard to believe that becoming a a senator would suddenly cause him cast aside all integrity.

There's a very interesting, back-page column by Rosa Melanson about the Alward government's replacement for the council of Status of Women. It's a good read for those who want to understand how governments (too often) work.

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21: lean pickings

(Sorry to be late with this one. My daughter,  her husband and my granddaughter were at the shore - and today was my last chance to see them. I'll do a blog on the July 22 paper, and generally figure out a way to catch up while I also get a tooth pulled this week. Oh, joy.)

The biggest story (perhaps the only story) in section A is that a new shoe store is coming to Moncton.

We're on the edge of the greatest crisis in history. Newstoday has three stories on it - and altogether they take up less space than the obituaries. All three stories are heavily biased - a bias which is to be found in virtually all North American news media. Russia, it seems, fired the rocket in Ukraine that brought down an airline. That's what Obama says; and it's the big in news today. And Obama is lying - but I have not seen a single news story that says so.

It is not possible for him to know who fired that rocket. In the first place, it takes experts a very long time even to be sure about the cause of a crash. And they haven't even started to look at it. Secondly, to show that it was a Russian rocket means nothing. All sides have access to Russian rockets. Thirdly, not even experts will be able to determine who fired that rocket. There is no possible way for them to learn that. Fourthly, The only country that loses by this act is Russia. It would have nothing to gain by it; and it is in deep, diplomatic trouble because of it. Putin has no shortage of faults; but he's not so stupid as to shoot himself in the foot.

Who gains from it?

The Ukraine government gains. Diplomatically, this puts Russia on the ropes. Obama gains because it gives him the excuse to go to war with Russia - and I have suspected that was his game from the start.

Oh, yeah. Secretary of State John Kerry accuses Russia of helping the Ukrainian separatists. This comes from the man whose government hires, arms and equips al Quaeda terrorists to  murder tens of thousands of Syrians.

As for Israel and Hamas, the big story is that the US is trying to broker a peace deal. Yeah. Sure. The deal was actually written by Tony Blair who is a highly paid advisor to Israel). They don't bother to explain what the deal is. But I found it in  British papers. Palestine would be governed jointly by the Palestinian Authority with US participation in the government.  Sounds good?

Well, the Authority is a very obedient "authority" - obedient to the US. And the US, Israel's closest ally, would also be there.  In other words, after over sixty years Palestine will still be denied democracy, and denied the right to govern itself. Wow! What a great deal!

As usual, the editorial has nothing to say about these stunningly dangerous events. It never does. How could it? Obviously, there is nobody on that editorial board who has enough brains to write about anything except making the poor suffer for causing the recession.

Here's a hint to Brethour and Hogan and  the other kiddies. For years, the oil industry, notably the Koch brothers who are big in the oil sands - and everywhere else) spent billions to tell us all that climate change was not happening, a line faithfully supported by the Irving press. Well, now we know it is happening. Just about every authority in the world recognizes it. Obama recognizes it. Even Harper has publicly recognized it. So what is the huge project they're pushing now? Building pipelines to carry the world's dirtiest oil to foreign countries. And the New Brunswick government is leading the charge. duh, we'll create jobs.

Hint, guys, whether the oil is burned here or in China, it goes up into the sky and affects all of us. We may already be at the point of no return. Do you think you could stop kissing the asses of oil billionaires long enough to tell us about what that means for our futures? Greed makes even billionaires (especially billionaires) stupid.

Oh, great story on the business page. Prosperity is coming back. We know that because the sales of corporate jets are going up. duh- brilliant insight. Of course, you and I will not be taking test drives. Prosperity is on the rise for that tiny handful of people who pay little taxes and get government handouts. But their prosperity is built on our growing poverty - you know, all those poor people the editors have so much contempt for.

Worst of all, the Irvinig paper and almost all other news media I've seen treat the shooting down of the airliner and the rocket fire by Hamas as though these were what started the crises. That's useful if you're writing propaganda. But if you want to tell the truth, you have to start from the beginning.

The beginning of the Ukraine crisis was the overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine. And that was almost certain set up by the US. The beginning of the Israel/Palestine crisis goes back to 1948 and, perhaps, even further. And the blame for it lies heavily on the shoulders of Britain and the US. who have tried to use both countries to establish their own dominance in the region. But, when you're writing propaganda, it always easier to start   with the most recent incident as though that's the cause of everything.

The fighting in Palestine is obviously a horror for the Palestinians. But that whole region is so unstable, it could well turn into a disaster for Israel. - and for all of us. As for Ukraine, it is very likely (certain) that their are influential people in the US who want a war with Russia.

And we are involved. Remember how Harper promised unconditional support for Israel? Remember his big talk on Ukraine, and his sending of Canadian troops and aircraft for possible service there? I know he said those things only to win the next election. But many young Canadians may pay the price for his political ambitions.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

July 19: Funny how us people think (part 2)

Sorry to be late. I was within a sentence of finishing it when the cat cleverly stepped on my keyboard, and I got a blank screen.


Firday's banner headline on page 1 bothered me. "Holocaust survivor shares emotional story". It's really an excellent story about a survivor of the death camps who gave a talk in Moncton. I knew many death camp survivors in Montreal. Some were very close friends who I loved dearly, and miss profoundly. For others, the experience had made them racist, self-centred, and time bombs of hatred. It was understandable, if not admirable, given their experience.

Mr. Phillip Riteman went into a death camp about the age of 8 or 9. There he saw all the horrors it is possible see and endure. The headline says the speech was an emotional story. I'm sure it was. I've heard many of these accounts; and the emotional reaction never leaves. But the story is much, much more than emotion.

The quotation that struck me in that report is "By love you conquer the world. By hate,  you destroy everything. You destroy yourself."

When I was head counsellor of a Jewish camp, one of my staff had a been a child prisoner in Poland, then was liberated and grew up in Israel.He despised, loathed, hated Palestinians. He saw them as an inferior race - just as Hitler saw Jews. He thought they should all be killed - just as Hitler thought all Jews should be killed. All that he learned from the death camp was to think in the same way as his captors.

But Phillip Riteman is made of different stuff. This is a real mensch. (Learn some yiddish. It's good for you.) I wish the TandT had quoted more of his speech. And yet....

.....I'm still wary of this as the banner headline, front-page story. It comes on the same day that Israeli troops are moving toward 400 killings of Palestinians, most of them civilians, many children.

From what I've read in the TandT, I like and admire Mr. Riteman. I completely agree with him. But he is on a tour. Who is paying for this? Could it possibly be the Israeli lobby paying through one of its Canadian agencies like B'Nai Brith?  The same Israeli lobby that preaches hatred of Palestinians? The lobby supported by the same Israeli government that has spent most of seventy years as jailers to Palestinians, squeezing them like animals for the slaughter into a tiny, impoverished area while it steals Palestinian land and wrecks conferences on a peaceful settlement?

And that takes us to the funny way us people think. Most people read a news story quickly, and commonly read on for only a few paragraphs. They  take away only a general idea of it. For such a person, the message of this story is not the very intelligent and compassionate position that Mr. Riteman takes.

The message is Naziis killed Jews. Therefore (this is the invisible ink our mind pick up), therefore Israelis have the right to kill Palestinians.

Oh - I know. Israel is just defending itself against rocket attacks from Hamas. Ever wonder why you never see a story that explains why Hamas is shooting rockets?

In short, I distrust the motives of the editors of the TandT in making this story at this time their banner headline.

Oh, before you shout "anti-semite", consider this. Palestinians are a semitic people. Most Israelis are not.
Anti-abortion folks, wrapped in the cloak of the Lord, are cheering that the Morgentaler Clinic is closed. They opposed abortion as being against a commandment. In fact, the commandment is much broader than that. It forbids the killing of ALL people,. So will the anti-abortionists be hustling their butts on this?

I think,, for example, of Harper and Obama cheering on the Israelis in their indiscriminate attacks on Palestine. I think of Canada sending troops to help the US in an illegal war against Afghanistan, and one that had nothing to do with us. I think of Canada sending aircraft to kill indiscriminately in Libya. I think of the US murdering millions of innocents in Vietnam. And, if dead babies and adults don't interest them, they can consider the fact that the dumping of Agent Orange so horribly deforms human embryo that most die while still babies.

Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt your prayer telling Jesus how good you've been.
Norbert was in great form on Friday, writing about the fighting in Gaza. Yes, I agree with him. But that's not why I say he's in great from. There is no name-calling, no ranting, no caricaturing. This is solidly reasoned; and the quality of writing would be a compliment to any newspaper.

He's also in good form for Saturday when he does a fine job on minimum wage laws.

I love you, Norbert.

Alec Bruce gets mad in the Friday edition. Ever hear the saying that only your best friends will tell you that your breath smells awful? Think of Alec Bruce as your best friend. Words like parochial, mean-minded, fear-mongering fill his column, and they're always linked to Atlantic Canada. Unfortunately, he left out other words that would have given us a fuller picture - unthinking and self-righteous spring to mind.

Well, sometimes it's good to let off steam.

Alas, it's even worse than Bruce says. We live in a Canada, indeed in a world, of parochial, mean-minded, fear-mongering, self-righteous, nose-in-their-own-belly-button people. Sometimes, I can't even stand myself.
Saturday has Gwynne Dyer's column. It's about the shooting down of a Malaysian Air passenger plane over Ukraine. Pay special attention to his last sentence.  "It's already ugly; and it's going to get uglier."

Obama responded with the charge this was a global tragedy. The flight carried 298 people.

You know, when Obama ran for the leadership, I thought he was a zero. But he could at least read and write - which put him miles ahead of Bush. I was wrong. Obama is a thoroughly irresponsible disaster.

This, like Gaza - is a situation that needs calmness, not battlecries. It was a global tragedy? That's certainly how it's played in the news media. Apparently, both the news media and Obama have forgotten the passenger plane of some years ago that was shot down by the US navy over the Mediterranean. He has forgotten the 300,000 innocent civilians murdered under US leadership in Guatemala, the millions killed and maimed by the US in Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan, the tens of thousands of innocent Syrians being killed by "rebels" who are really mercenaries hired, trained, and equipped by the US and Saudi Arabia.

(As a sideline, there are the thousands who die every year because the US runs out of  money to buy medication for them. It runs out because the drug companies insist on getting the full, American retail price (a grossly inflated one) for every pill they send.)

But that brings us to the "funny" way us people think.

Shooting  civilians and children on land is quite acceptable.Britain invaded and murdered in countries covering a fifth of the world. And the churches praised the empire. The American fire-bombing of Tokyo was a deliberate attack on civilians, and it killed a hundred thousand of them. Who even hears of it now?

Admiral Perry who appeared with the American fleet on the coast of Japan opened an American trade with Japan which Japan had forbidden. The school books say he did it just by appearing. Actually, he didn't just appear. He shelled defenceless coastal cities killing an unknown number of civilians.

Yep. Us people kill other people all the time in huge numbers - on land.

But read history books. Killing them when they're civilians travelling on a passenger ship - and you get some very bad press. In recent years, killing them by shooting down a civilian airliner has the same impact. It strikes an emotional response that doesn't happen when they're slaughtered on land - even though the numbers on land are usually much,  much greater.

For some reason, that sort of killing strikes a deep emotional chord in us. And the press and the politicians play to it. "World leader demand answers..."  That's nice. Odd they haven't demanded answers for the many millions we've killed on land.

"Canada calls plane shootinig a 'brutal act of terror'". Gee. Canada never called the massacre of 300,000 Guatemalans a brutal act of terror. Not even when one was a Canadian lay missionary. It never called the killing of over a million Iraqis an act of terror.

(I have no idea whether the Ukraine killing was an act of terror. Nor does anybody in Ottawa have any idea. But it plays well on the emotions.)

This is the kind of incident that touches a deep, emotional chord in us so that we can be manipulated into a war.

I think that's why Dyer says "'s going to get uglier."