Every heard of Jim Manley? You certainly haven't read about him in the Times and Transcript. Mr. Manley is 79, retired, has never committed a crime in his life - and is now sitting in an Israeli prison. He'll be there, they say, until he signs a false confession. Why? He was on a small boat carrying dangerous things like soccer balls to Palestine. (The Israeli ship which stopped his boat and forced it into an Israeli port was acting illegally.)
Jim Manley was always a respectable man, a member of the NDP, a member of parliament for some years. In short, a Canadian of some distinction who has committed no crime is being held illegally in an Israeli prison - and Stephen Harper isn't lifting a finger; and the TandT staff would probably have trouble finding Israel on a map. We've been through this before.
When Omar Khadr was illegally held as a war prisoner and illegally tortured, Canada was the only country with a citizen treated like that who did not demand and receive custody of its own citizen. (No. We have long since lost any reputation we had in the world for honesty and integrity in these matters. Harper knows who his masters are.)
Page 1 has a long, long story about Brian Gallant who is running for the Liberal leadership in New Brunswick. I don't know why it has a long, long story. Most of the writing is a fog of trivia. As well as I could understand it, he says he stands for good things. Well, that's nice. We haven't had one of those for quite a while.
Actually, there is no story. This is just a press agent's plug. So far as I can tell the reporter didn't ask a single question. Indeed, the whole story could have been written by a pr agent. Though full of pretty, little stories, it gives little hint of what he would do about anything - and none whatever about his political principles. In sum, he's going to do something different - and he'll do what he has to do. Wow! Sounds like we have another Brian Alward here.
The reporter might have asked him what liberal means. I know the dictionary meanings. I have no idea what the word liberal means as a party name or what it means to Mr. Gallant. What are the most prominent issues New Brunswick has to deal with? What are the Liberal ways of approaching them. Why?
What role, if any, does Mr. Gallant think big business should have in government? Better still, as Mr. Irving. He has already pronounced himself a member of the government. As well, big business has a group of its appointees to "advise" the government on economic policy. Why doesn't the TandT skip the small fry like Alward and Gallant, and ask Mr. Irving what his policies are?
Like most TandT reports, this one is all just fluff and chicken bones.
Also on the front page is a quite asinine story. It seems city hall has announced that its highly paid planning staff with take advantage of the Transpo lockout to redesign the schedules, and make them simpler and more efficient. Won't that be great? So, for the minor inconvenience of a year or so with no mass transit, we'll have a great, uptodate system - designed by he same people who designed the last one.
It seems not to have occurred to the reporter that this is what the overpaid city staff is supposed to be doing all the time - without needing a lockout. That's what happens in real cities.
This is a remarkably silly story. So why does it appear? It's probably there to give the impression that city hall is doing something about its lockout. I mean, with those huge salaries, it has to do something. Meanwhile, it's working on a privatization plan for a much smaller and even less convenient system driven by non-union drivers. I mean, ya gotta cut somewhere to pay all those hundred thousand plus salaries.
Incidentally, if the story is that the city's bus planning staff is now going to re plan the service, what the hell has it been doing for the last several months? Playing games on the office computers?
So much for section A.
There's at least one story worth reading in Section C, NewsToday. It may well be the most important thing that has been said about shale gas so far - and it's a point that blew right by Dr. Lapierre, bless his heart. On p. C3 is a warning. We have very little time to cut the levels of carbon dioxide. Shale gas will not only do serious damage to the environment (for a very short-term gain), but concentrating on it will fatally slow work on genuinely renewable sources of energy. Shale gas is dreadfully punishing for the environment. The damage is profound and permanent. But even it it weren't, the time wasted in developing shale gas will be fatal all by itself.
The only opinion column worth reading is Alec Bruce who is the one person I have seen in that paper to take a serious look at the economic times we are heading into. It's grim. And even grimmer than he says.
Ever since 1492, the wealth of the western world has depended on its military power which has used to extract cheap labour and cheap materials from the rest of the world. For Britain, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, that power collapsed as a result of World War Two. The US tried to replace the old empires with its own power. But the first sign of its failure was the rise of Fidel Castro who displaced an American dictator to set an example for Latin America. And he got away with it. It worked. American power is now much reduced in Latin America - we can expect to see fighting there as the US tries to re-establish itself. (In fact, the fighting is on and has been on for decades. A quarter of a million dead civilians in Guatemala should have opened eyes to that. But most of our news media never reported it. Nor did most of them ever report that the NATO intervention in Haiti was to put that unhappy island back under the control of an American puppet.)
The US military record since World War Two has been abysmal. Despite its size and its spending, it has lost war after war against much smaller opponents. (Even Iraq will soon join the list of lost wars.) The US has tried to catch up by using mercenaries (it now has more mercenaries than it has Americans in Afghanistan), by advanced technologies, by assassination squads and special ops, by robot bombers, by sponsoring rebellions in countries like Libya and Syria. It's not working. But it is causing enormous civilian casualties and national suffering. That, in the process, has rallied and united opposition to the US and made it, once the most admired nation in the world, into the most hated.
The western empires built their wealth on military superiority. But now, so far as conventional warfare is concerned, we have lost that superiority.
Combined with that, big business, operating on pure greed, has effectively taken over control of western governments. We are watching the collapse of a world we have known for over five hundred years. Fracking for shale gas in New Brunswick will not solve the problems posed by that collapse. There's a collapse of power, a collapse of democracy, a collapse of capitalism as it is supposed to operate, a collapse of social morality.
Read at least the first two paragraphs of Alec Bruce's column. And, no, he does not exaggerate at all. This is the sort of situation that Mr. Gallant wants to tackle as leader of the Liberal party. I thank him. But I would like to see something more substantial about his agenda.
I apologize to at least two readers who wrote in interesting comments. I punched the button to publish them. But they didn't appear as comments, and now I can't find the original posts, either. (I blame a cat that walks across my computer whenever I sit down to it.)
Please send your comments again - and I'll make sure to keep the cat tied up.
Oh, a piece of humour on the op ed page. Eric Lewis tells us that, as a journalist, he has to work hard to keep up on political happenings in the province. I'll bet. Tell you what, Eric,stop reading the Times and Transcript. Listen to CBC radio.
On second thought, scrap that. If you knew anything about New Brunswick politics, and wrote it in your column, you'd be looking for a job in another province within a day.