Wednesday, August 23, 2017

With apologies, I am going to try something different today. To understand current events, it's important to understand them in a very broad context of years and places. It's not possible to fully understand, say, the American invasions we read of today without starting way back to at least 1871 and the unification of Germany. So  - I'll take a stab at creating that bigger picture. each day as I start the daily blog.

It's, in some ways, a personal story that begins with my birthday at age 12 when I was given the mutivolume set of Winston Churchill's History of the English-speaking Peoples. I was enchanted by it.

It was filled with an oratory that bellowed from the pages. An oration to the magnificence of the English people, the glory, of the need for all the English-speaking people of the world to unite. Churchill was, himself, hugely admired as the saviour of Britain and the Empire and his vision of the continuance of it through Uniting all the English-speaking people of the world. I was transported to a world of ecstasy.

In fact, his book, as I would later learn, was highly romanticized crap. Nor was he the prophet of a new world. He was, in fact, the last defender of a brutal England that had mudered and plundered all over the world - and for the satisfaction only of the very wealthy English. He was the last defender of an ugly past.

Churchill was born into a family of the highest British nobility, His grandfather was the Duke of Marlborough. Alas! his father (since he was not a first son) was only a Lord (a title he could not pass on to his son), and did not inherit money. So, in the fashion of the time, he married a very wealthy American woman with both living it up in a world of palaces, the highest society, gala dinners - and endless sexual encounters.  Winston rarely saw them or spoke to them, being raised by a servant in his grandfather's magnificent palace.

He grew up, like others of his class, with a monstrous arrogance toward everyone, including even the aristocracy. The working class simply didn't exist in  his mind. No, he was not a prophet of the world of the 20th and 21st. centuries.
For that, we have to go back to the mid-nineteenth century and a Prussian nobleman named Otto von Bismark. Prussia was then the largest and most powerful of many German states.

There was no Germany at the time. By force and political skill, Bismarck united them as an empire under his rule in 1871, naming  Wilhelm 1 as the Kaiser. (Caesar)

And that sent a shockwave through the European powers, especially Britain.  A united Germany could outclass the industrial power of Britain and France, for example, and severely cut into their profits. And it might look for its own empire in Africa and Asia, further cutting into British and French profits.  It might even build a navy to challenge the British navy.

(As an aside, the British had been moving toward getting rid of Canada. It feared an American invasion of Canada  (which was certainly possible).  Such a war would be expsensive and unwinnable.

No. Britain had to be friends with the U.S. in face of a rising Germany. That's why, by late 1870s, the British were speaking of how nice the Americans were and how Britain and the U.S. should start getting together as a friends to rule the world.  (You'll find it mentioned in one of the Sherlock Holmes stories, "The Noble Bachelor". )  That was the real beginning of Churchill's reason for writing "History of the English-speaking Peoples".

Yes, it seemed clear that Canada was just a burden on the empire.
To be continued..unless there is a reader rebellion against it.....
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I couldn't resist this one- it's such a wild idea that I laughed at first. But this IS the future. How will we be prepared for it? Will we vote for governments maintain our standards of living? Or will we let big business do what it has always done -  make huge profits by firing people and cutting the salaries of those left?

Will Mr.  Irving tell us he plans to cut working hours to two hours a day - while raising salaries?

How come our politicians aren't talking about this? How come we aren't make plans. This is not the distant future. Comic as it may seem, this is one hell of a serious matter, and it's happening now.

Note at the bottom that a robot priest has been created, too. And here I've been thinking that many of our clergy have been robots for a century and more.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/23/robot-funerals-priest-launched-softbank-humanoid-robot-pepper-live-streaming
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It is almost unheard of for the UN to issue a warning to the U.S. It is absolutely unheard of for it to warn any country in the western world for its racism.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/23/charlottesville-un-committee-warns-us-over-rise-of-racism

This is a sign of concern of  general U.S. behaviour - and not just related to Trump.
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A warning for those who think the generals will bring down Trump. In fact, there's no use in  having generals or Republicans or Democrats take him down. The U.S. is way past the point of cosmetic surgery. It needs massive change - and only the American people can do that.  But, oh, they don't have much time.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/21/dont-expect-generals-save-you-donald-trump-white-house
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The story below is British - but it applies to Canada and the U.S. And it's one I feel strongly about because I began my working life with a heavy debt for university education. The record of Canada, Britain, and the U.S. for this is shameful. In many countries poorer than us, universitty education is free.
Part of the problem is that our universities have come to be dominated by the wealthiest businessmen on their boards.   They run them as if they were businesses. And the effect of the wealthy has been make universities extremely overburdened with support staff, puppets of the very wealthy, and even propagandists for them.  (Most profs aren't propagandists,but a very few are sell-outs.)

And, symbolic of the destruction of the university as a free and thinking place are the huge salaries of their executives.

I was once offered the presidency of a large university. The terms were stunning - a hugely oversized salary that I would get for life even if I got fired second day on the job. Huge gifts on the side. I was hammered at by a team of lawyers. It seemed too good.

And it was. I realized I was being bought by one of the Irvings of this world. So I turned it down. A disgusting sample of what can happen did happen in New Brunswick almost ten years ago.

The Irving of the time announced that he was (illegally) going to become a member of the government and plan our economy. And he named the usual boot-lickers to serve under him, starting with the univesity presidents, chambers of commerce, etc. And the university presidents were the first ones to ask him which cheek (behind him) they should kiss.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/23/resigned-vice-chancellors-pay-student-debt-university-of-bath
Our university system is a disgrace when it has all the potential to be one of the best in the world.
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ALL of information Clearing House for the last two days is a good read.
Just google Information Clearing House.

In particular, note the the clips on Afghanistan. The Afghani government (the one on our side) is made up of unspeakably corrupt warlords who long ago destroyed the significant progress Afghanistan was making to democracy, and who are now the biggest drug lords in the world. Funny how that never made the Irving press.

Be warned that sending 3000 or so American troops is most unlikely to work. And it will certainly not make more Muslims love Americans. Be warned, too, that Trump is very likely to ask for Canada to 'do its share'. And watch for all the kissups in Ottawa - and the irving press -  to support it.
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https://theintercept.com/2017/08/23/boston-alt-right-police-black-lives-matter-counter-demonstration/
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This could be the final act of the terrible war that U.S. oil barons  have inflicted on Syria.

https://theintercept.com/2017/08/22/syrian-civilians-brace-for-humanitarian-disaster-of-a-final-confrontation-between-assad-and-jihadists/

I hope it is the final act. The problem is it shuts out the U.S. oil barons, and it weakens their hold on the rest of the middle east. It is possible the U.S. will look for extensions of this war, perhaps helping other middle east states to join in against Assad.

But don't worry. If you stick to the irving press you'll never know what happened, anyway. Its sense of news stops at 'man arrested for spitting'.
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There was a racist riot in Quebec City. The Irving press didn't pay much attention to it. It should have.

The province of Quebec, like all provinces,, has quite a history of racism. (Toronto was famous for its anti-Jewish demonstrations in the 1930s). I've been at more than a few anti-English riots in Montreal - and other violence like the torching of the offices of the english-rights group. Racism is a powerful force in the history of both English and French Montreal.

At my last visit to my  home town, I was suprised at the hugely growing racial mix of Montreal. I was happy to see it. But I very much fear a violent reaction.

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/nora-loretos-blog/2017/08/police-and-journalists-hand-victory-far-right-racist
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Below are letters to an editor of a blog. It's about the Dieppe raid.

I don't entirely agree with the first writer. And it think his responder is hopelessly out of touch with reality.

One of my students wrote a book about the raid in which he claimed it was a success because it made possible the success of a small group that had piggy-backed on the raid. (I don't agree that made the raid worth all those Canadian lives.)

And there's the old story that we learned valuable lessons from the raid. Yeah. We learned you shouln't continue a raid when you've been spotted by an enemy ship while still a long way from your target. You shouldn't continue after the enemy has been wirelessed in time to set their defences to shell and machine gun your toops before they even land.      
 
The truth is that the Dieppe Raid was one of the worst planned military raids in history.  Field-Marshal Montgomery saw the plan - and advised that it was a terrible one. (and the story that we learned valuable lessons for D Day is a crock.)

We should, indeed, remember those who were killed or imprisoned in their hopeless attack. But we should not kid ourselves it was a triumph of any sort - except for those who had to have the courage to face it.

http://rabble.ca/babble/international-news-and-politics/was-dieppe-aug18-failure-helped-allies-postpone
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Disaster - my favourite newspaper, Haaretz, is going to charge me for future copies. - And I'll probably do it.

For today, it has broken the big story that Israel has recently built 3,000 Jewish-only homes on land stolen from Palestine.

Does that mean Jews are evil?

Alas!  No. It means like the Jews, Africans, Muslims, Chinese, Russians we're all human.

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