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John Chuckman

COMMENT TO MICHAEL ENRIGHT ABOUT AN EPISODE OF CBC RADIO’S SUNDAY EDITION

What a shame you had a long segment about a very important and fascinating topic, the Armenian Genocide, and your effort was just plain dreary and uninteresting, all of it the personal reflections of three not-particularly-interesting people, like an hour’s worth of low-key chatter at a cocktail party.

You missed a great opportunity to do something worthwhile.

Why has this subject been so repressed, not just in Turkey but in many countries? What were Turkey’s motives? Why have the United States and others deliberately avoided offending Turkey for decades over this subject?

Perhaps most interesting, why has the Vatican at this time made this statement? Nothing the Vatican does is without politics, and there is, to a certainty, something which has occurred behind the scenes causing this statement. Concern over Turkey’s dealings with Russia?

Last, I have in the past heard spokespeople for Israel, one being Elie Wiesel, expressing sputtering fury over the very mention of an “Armenian Genocide.” According to these folks, there can be only one event in history worthy of the term genocide. Why? There’s an interesting sidelight on the subject.

You didn’t enlighten, Michael Enright, you only schmoozed with some folks who had little to say.

FOOTNOTE: Only shortly after this event, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a stunning public statement that it would be incorrect to call the mass killing of 1.5 million Armenians a genocide! He said it was an “atrocity crime,” a silly minted-to-the purpose term which reminds me a bit of the time when Israel pressured everyone to stop saying “suicide-bombers” and use the silly expression “homicide bombers,” something the insipid George Bush quickly did in a speech, making himself sound more tongue-twisted than ever.  Clearly, new back-scene political pressure is being applied by someone.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Is there a sillier leader on the planet than David Cameron?

“Calamitous”? What an utterly inappropriate and inflated word to describe his own fears of losing office.

I won’t comment on Mr. Cameron’s handling of Britain’s domestic affairs, although my reading is that a great many people in the country are considerably less than charmed.

But Mr. Cameron’s record in running Britain’s foreign affairs is just a dreary and embarrassing series of daily salutes to Washington, each time asking, “Yes, Sir, what do you want me to say or do today?”

I didn’t think it possible that Tony Blair could ever be outshone in pure obsequiousness, but Cameron seems to be making a great and mighty effort to do so.

God, what a relief if a Labour-SNP coalition could put an end to that.

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO A STORY BY DAVID PRIESTLAND IN THE GUARDIAN

Well, the reference to “hunchbacked” shows something important of the writer’s understanding.

We now know definitively from his bones that Richard was not a hunchback, that legend undoubtedly having been created by apologists for the Tudors, apologists like the brilliant but biased Shakespeare.

I love Shakespeare’s Richard III, one of his greatest histories, but it is riddled with exaggeration and inaccurate information.

The historical Richard actually appears to have been a rather brave and admirable king, at least according to some serious recent biographers.

As far as his re-burial’s negative effect on the city owing to his bad reputation, I am sure it will in fact prove the opposite, to be beneficial in economic terms. Like it or not, tourists do go to see the places associated with villains. We actually had people going to the place O. J. Simpson’s wife and another person were literally butchered like livestock to take smiling snapshots of themselves.

John Chuckman

COMMENT TO CBC RADIO CONCERNING AN INTERVIEW ON SUNDAY EDITION WITH GIDEON LEVY

As liberal-minded and decent-spirited as your Israeli journalist guest of March 29, may be, why can’t the Palestinians speak for themselves?

Are the Palestinians such hopeless children or primitives that they cannot speak for themselves?

Your program has given voice to scores of Israelis and apologists for Israel over the years with barely a sound from the Palestinians, who have many articulate and educated spokespeople.

The bias, extreme bias, just couldn’t be clearer. Even when speaking of the grief Israel has imposed on five million people for half a century, and in violation of countless international laws and agreements and norms, pretty much only Israelis are deemed qualified to comment.

Actually your interview today could be seen as a new form of reverse-propaganda in that it advertises reasonableness amongst Israelis, telling people: So don’t worry about the endless abuse and injustice, such good folks in Israel will make things right, eventually, and you can feel good just knowing they are there.

Michael, despite your general liberal-mindedness, your broadcasting practices on this terrible, longstanding issue of utterly-debased human rights makes you part of the problem, not the solution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMENT ON A PIECE BY DANIEL HALPER IN THE WEEKLY STANDARD

John Chuckman

 

It really does not get more uninformed and deliberately provocative than “U.S. Threatens Sanctions Against Israel, Makes Excuses for Iran.”

This stuff reads like an official news release from the old Politburo.

There is no need for excuses for Iran. It has done absolutely nothing requiring excuses.

It hasn’t attacked anyone in its modern history, is a member of the international treaty on nuclear weapons permitting inspections, and every intelligence service, including Israel’s, knows it has not been trying to build a bomb.

The genuine madman running Israel, on the other hand, has yelled for years that Iran is building a bomb, going against his own intelligence service. The madman just won re-election by promising no state for the Palestinians, so presumably five million people will be kept without any rights or votes forever? Or perhaps expelled in a future massive ethnic cleansing?

Without outside pressure on Israel, clearly nothing will happen to correct this shameful, longstanding, and potentially deadly situation.

Israel, in contrast to Iran, has attacked every neighbor that it has, some more than once. The madman himself killed 2,200 people only recently in a senselessly brutal assault. The madman’s yelling about Iran is about nothing other than wanting complete dominance of the region and as a distraction against the very bad economic conditions in Israel for ordinary people and against the tremendous tensions he has created in Jerusalem with his regular theft of property and mistreatment of ancient residents.

Israel, again in contrast to Iran, does not belong to the international nuclear arms treaty and does not allow inspections of nuclear facilities, and it does have a stockpile of thermonuclear bombs. Moreover, it participated in a deadly serious secret proliferation of nuclear arms with the former apartheid South Africa, then a good friend and trading partner.

Does it feel good to go to bed each night knowing you’re making every effort as a writer to promote war with a peaceful country, Iran, and continued mass slavery in Israel?

 

 

 

 

POSTED COMMENTS TO A STORY IN THE GUARDIAN

 

 

David Cameron is America’s biggest fool abroad.

This entire adventure, the CIA’s causing a coup in Ukraine and precipitating a civil war, was a gigantic mistake, a mistake fraught with great risk from the beginning and serving no purpose but to gain a psychological advantage over Russia.

Not only that, but it has always involved the support of neo-Nazi and fascist-militia types, present in Ukraine in sizable numbers and heavily armed.

Russia could literally sweep Ukraine off the map in weeks, but it hasn’t so and has shown not the least intention of doing so.

So leave the situation alone.

Ukraine’s current government is so incompetent it will fall eventually anyway. It has thrown away a good part of its army to achieve nothing. It has shot down a civilian airliner without ever acknowledging the fact. It has thrown Ukraine’s economy into turmoil. It has endangered its own energy supplies.

These are dangerous clowns, and the only people genuinely happy with them are frat-boys and plug-uglies guffawing in Langley, Virginia.

Of course, I realize Cameron is by this act genuflecting to Washington. Possibly even he realizes in private how stupid it is, but he is a card-carrying member of the cult worshipping American pre-eminence.

___________________________________

Response to a reader who took exception to my comment about shooting down Flight MH-17:

The simple fact that the investigators are silent tells you a great deal, silent under American influence.

Believe me, if any evidence showed the Russians responsible, we’d hear about it.

It is not that complex a job to determine what happened. It’s been done many times in many places.

The key fact always left out of the story is that America has the world’s most sophisticated spy satellites, called Keyhole Satellites. They cover the earth daily, and one of them was directly overhead the area at the time.

Where are the pictures? Where are the various data tracks?

Simple answer: hidden.

Also, as you should know, America has some of the world’s most sophisticated radars, and believe me, some of them are always trained on the Russian border.

So where are the radar tracks, which absolutely must exist for this event?

Hidden, clearly.

And what is the only reasonable explanation for withholding all the evidence?

To prevent the West from being horrified by what the incompetent Ukrainian military has done.

After all, the mess in Ukraine is their baby, so to speak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMENT POSTED IN THE GUARDIAN ABOUT A STORY ON THE TRIAL OF EDDIE RAY ROUTH WHO KILLED CHRIS KYLE, AMERICAN SNIPER

 

John Chuckman

 

A sniper is not a soldier, any more than a drone operator is. He’s a cowardly killer hiding in ambush.

This sniper was also, virtually certainly, a psychopath. He loved killing, and killed in record numbers.

The symptoms described for his killer suggest some degree of paranoid schizophrenia.

Of course, the military provides a welcome home for both types. It always has. Where else do you get to kill and commit acts of savagery in large numbers and be praised and even rewarded for it?

These recent American wars represent no principle, and they defend nothing but the self-assumed right of America’s establishment to tell people around the planet how to order their lives.

These are some of the dirtiest colonial wars in history, the work of a great bully wrapped in a flag who spouts nonsense about rights and democracy he doesn’t even understand.

 

 

 

LETTER TO CBC RADIO 

John Chuckman

 

Many on CBC Radio have commented on the Ghomeshi squalor. Anna Maria Tremonti, your finest interviewer when she’s in top form, joined with three guests recently discussing whether these events represented a watershed for women.

The discussion proved pretty insipid, but there was truth in the notion of a watershed, not however the watershed discussed, that of a turn in male-female social relations, but one quite different.

CBC Radio, on all programs, has always paid lip service to female equality, just as it does so many progressive concepts. But the reality behind the words we now know is something quite different, and it wasn’t just Ghomeshi’s behavior which revealed it.

I cannot accept that other staff and CBC management were not aware of Ghomeshi’s reputation and office behavior for years. That kind of stink cannot be hidden. It reached even outsiders with one professor at Western reported as having advised students to avoid interning at Q. I certainly didn’t know the extent of things, but in Ghomeshi’s early broadcasting, I clearly heard stuff I would call “smarmy” in his references and emphases, something entirely alien to the sound of CBC, and I wrote CBC several times and ceased listening.

For his behavior to be tolerated so very long means only that CBC management deliberately chose ratings over ethics, making the network not a bit different to the ruthless enterprises most hosts on CBC would decry.

But there is a long thread to this theme. Toronto just had four years of a disgraceful man as Mayor. CBC typically, once the stories broke elsewhere, reported on his drunkenness and some other shameful behavior, but it always, always avoided the elephant in the room, his abuse of women. A while before he was elected, Ford had been arrested and taken away in handcuffs while his wife displayed a discolored face. She never pressed charges, as we can well imagine why. Other news sources reported that, not you.

The most shocking display of his abuse was his frenetic sudden “press conference” after making insane public comments earlier about “eating pussy” (his very words). He literally dragged his shy wife before the cameras after fetching her from home. She stood as she was directed, but took a couple of steps away and looked down, resembling a brow-beaten prisoner. Sometimes she looked up, and she fiddled with her ring finger, but did not perform the “dutiful wife smiles as her husband speaks“ routine. Her body language spoke volumes. No one on CBC Radio ever dealt with this public, virtually criminal behavior so far as I’m aware.

Ford also was reported by a woman Toronto politician as having touched her and spoken lewdly, and what did CBC Radio do with that? Or the several times he took prostitutes to his office, something we only learned from others.

Now, just a short time before writing this, CBC Radio news reported on controversy swirling around Justin Trudeau’s decisive act of suspending two MPs over sexual harassment of others. Controversy? Trudeau acted perfectly after one of the women involved herself came to him complaining. His was a high standard of behavior, the only one. Only the National Post and the NDP’s leader, both ever hopeful for a point to score against Trudeau, see controversy here.

I think it clear CBC has consistently failed for years to act – in its reporting, discussions, and in not conducting any investigative journalism around such matters – on the principles to which it gives endless lip service. That is the real watershed: the discovery that CBC’s conduct is hardly different from the gorillas it’s always decrying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

LETTER TO CBC MANAGEMENT AFTER ANNOUNCEMENT OF COMING CHANGES BY SENIOR MANAGEMENT

 

CBC’s President and its Vice-president for English Broadcasting spoke in radio interviews about technical matters, using words like “mobility” and almost not a word about content.

It is CBC’s degraded content that deeply concerns those concerned about CBC, not technical matters.

Of course the hope is that technology will reduce costs and that is good but far, far from sufficient.

CBC today – and I speak to CBC Radio, the service I have long used – is fast approaching irrelevance. The emphasis on pop music, on being almost an amateur-tryout outlet for hopeful wannabes, has swamped everything.

Appointed new hosts over recent years are a collective disaster: Jian Ghomeshi, Gill Deacon, Brent Bambury, Matt Galloway, and one or two others are simply uninteresting minds, yet they dominate the schedule, people who talk in trivialities about celebrities and pop music and never utter an incisive word. Even guest hosts on shows now are often of the same poor quality, people who cannot conduct an interesting or informative interview, for example the “The Current”’s summer host, a person of minimal apparent talent

CBC Radio’s broadcast news is filled with trivialities, unexamined notions, pointless “soundbites,” even errors, and virtually no digging-in to anything, besides being annoyingly and infinitely repeated. I am amazed at times on hearing a story on so-called national news that no editor said before putting it on air, “Well, that raises more questions than it answers.”

There are only a few hosts left worth hearing: Anna Maria Tremonti, Bob McDonald, Eleanor Wachtel, Michael Enright, and one or two others. Considering the ages of these excellent few, what comes after them? More dull mediocrity, without a doubt.

Instead of a broadcast service featuring Canada’s best, something of which we can be proud, something which informs, you’ve been building an all-day Ed Sullivan Show.

Content is everything, no matter how you distribute it. And content IS CBC Radio’s crucial problem, and the people who created the situation remain blind to what they’ve done. A few more such changes, and I just won’t bother ever tuning in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

LETTER TO CBC RADIO’S SUNDAY EDITION ON INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL GOLDHAGEN

Michael Enright is such a fair-minded man, and one articulate in his fair-mindedness, when it comes to most things. Is it too much to ask that that fairness be applied and heard consistently?

The characteristics of a fair-minded person are just a few, and they comprise the gold standard if you will. He or she is willing to discuss almost any topic. He or she is willing to listen to all sides of an issue presented by others. And he or she is open to being convinced he may have been wrong, at least in part.

I think by this set of criteria that Michael and his producers fail, and rather consistently, on a long term basis when it comes to the related topics of Israel and anti-Semitism.

How many times over, say, the last half dozen years has Michael’s program had an articulate spokesperson for Palestinian rights and grievances? I can tell you: close to, if not actually, zero times.

How many times has the program had spokespeople for Israel’s interests or on the much-abused topic of anti-Semitism? I haven’t counted, but I know that it likely would average to as much as once a month.

That may seem to you not excessive, but I think it represents a continuing, subtle, and genuinely unfair practice. One supposes you don’t make it more regular, say every week, because you understand that heavy repetition of these views would generate hostility in your audience. But the issue of unfairness still is glaringly clear here.

Even as you read these words, Israel prepares to seize more of the West Bank and Jerusalem. No compensation is even given to those whose homes and farms are seized for the flimsiest excuse. And when they protest or resist, they are abused, arrested and often imprisoned. Every day millions of Palestinians, never having done anything against the Jewish people, are treated like the residents of an unrelenting police state.

So, how is it that Michael and his producers believe, as they apparently do, that there is only one side in these matters?

The very definition of the word “liberal” does not make it possible for a true liberal to accept these ugly practices. Yet invariably, when anyone objects to Israel’s behavior, he or she is labeled an “anti-Semite” by the government of Israel and its many apologists abroad. It is a dirty and abusive and inherently unfair tactic.

It is this practice which explains illusory increases in anti-Semitism in “statistics” compiled by Israel’s apologists.
I’m sorry but I do not apologize for speaking against the practices of one of the meanest-natured governments on the planet and that does not make me or millions like me any more anti-Semitic than Michael is.

So, please, if you cannot deal with this set of issues fairly – and history indicates you cannot – leave it alone entirely.

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

COMMENT WRITTEN TO CBC NEWS

CBC radio news has been in serious decline for years, but in your recent coverage of events in Syria, you have touched bottom.

In every newscast and every news-oriented show, the subject dominates. Even on fluff shows like Mary Ito or Bret Banbury we hear about Syria from people who know nothing about it. The problem all this “coverage” is that you investigate nothing and simply repeat the official American view, endlessly.

You have not one qualified reporter on site. No one interviews Syrian officials. No one interviews Russian officials who include many experts on the region. No one talks to good independent reporters or observers, people such as Robert Fisk.

Your broadcasts would not differ in substance if you simply read press releases from the White House and Pentagon.

Even when you report facts upon which people might agree – as for example the number of refugees from Syria, recently cited at one million – you offer no vitally-important perspective, so the end result is effectively CBC joining the tireless American drumbeat to war.

You should well know that when America invaded Iraq, breaking all international law and humanitarian agreements, it killed at least half a million people and created four million refugees. It then refused to take almost any of the refugees, while Syria took a massive two million. Very heartless of Assad, don’t you think?

You keep repeating the American accusations about Assad using sarin gas. In fact, the only certain use of that horrible stuff has been by the violent rabble called the Free Syrian Army. They used small quantities more than once, material either captured from overrun military posts or supplied by American intermediaries such as Israel, which is known to have stockpiles.

And what is the “evidence” you blindly refer to over and over? I can tell you. It is a supposed recording of Syrian officials supplied by Mossad.

Yes, Mossad, the very people who pride themselves at deception and who have a long track record of expertly using it, even in several cases successfully against the United States.

And the recording, even if it could be proved authentic, is ambiguous as to meaning.

You do not kill thousands of people and destroy a country’s infrastructure citing rubbish like that.

The truth is that the entire Syrian “civil war,” as I cannot but believe some of your better journalists must know, is an American black-operation, part of a long series of violent efforts to create a huge cordon sanitaire around Israel. And this particular induced-civil war employs many of the same unsavoury characters typically grouped under the rubric “al Qaeda.”

Recently, this massive covert effort has been failing, despite even more American and Israeli weapons being smuggled to the murderous opposition through Turkey, owing to the successes of Assad’s army. So, now a new casus belli is needed to allow American bombing of Assad’s forces.

The “formula” for this kind of operation was worked out in the invasion of Afghanistan where Americans used everything from Tomahawk missiles to B-52s (with hideous cluster bombs as well as “block-busters”) while locals – the Northern Alliance in that case, including such blood-thirsty creatures as General Dostum – did most of the fighting on the ground. The formula was successfully and cynically repeated in Libya.

The cynics running the induced-horror in Syria for America have gone to the extent now of supplying the rabble with small quantities of sarin to generate a tipping point so Libya can be repeated. It is brutal cynicism with absolutely no regard for Syria’s people.

And remember, if you associate America’s impulses in Syria with either the rule of law or humanitarianism, it was Americans who employed white phosphorus, flame throwers, depleted-uranium (cancer-inducing) ammunition, and cluster bombs in Iraq. Some great defenders of humanitarian principles to be judging what anyone else does.

I realize you cannot present all these underlying realities (after all, your president would be called into Stephen Harper’s office immediately for a chair-throwing meeting), but you do not need to sink to the contemptible level of just repeating every American fabrications with no authority of on-site journalism and no expert opinion.

Shabby, simply shabby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

COMMENT WRITTEN IN RESPONSE TO A BROADCAST ON RADIO

The parable incorrectly conflates two perspectives on the notion of someone’s throwing washed-up starfish back into the sea.

The first perspective is personal, the one doing the throwing.

The second perspective is universal, the person correctly advising that starfish are always being washed ashore all over the world.

The first person is responding to personal feelings and likely could not do otherwise than he or she is doing. But we well know that this person could spend an entire vacation, day and night, throwing starfish back into the sea: he or she might feel good doing so, but in fact would make no difference at all to the total population of starfish.

The second person is giving a universal perspective, or, to put it more scientifically, we may say the statistical truth about the world’s population of starfish. We know this is so because science has demonstrated in species after species – turtles, fish, birds, or insects – that nature produces huge numbers precisely so that at least some portion will survive. It is absolutely guaranteed that many or most individuals in such populations will not survive, the rate of survival at any given time depending on vicissitudes of climate and other factors.

Still, the individual with humanitarian instincts will want to throw the starfish back, but we should note that this only serves to satisfy his or her emotions: it changes nothing.

The second perspective is the factual one: because we are dealing with very large numbers, tiny additions or subtractions are the equivalent of growing or losing a few hairs on your head.

Such a parable is a poor one for any intellectual or educational institution to employ. If you check it briefly on the Internet, you’ll see the kind of people cited are those who read books like Jonathon Living Seagull or The Prophet.

The attitude of the person throwing back the starfish is that shared by the religious zealot or evangelist, demonstrating a drive to convert the whole world’s population – a feat that has never happened and indeed is quite impossible with many millions being born and dying every year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Israel plays this prisoner-release game every time the U.S. manages to push it, once again, into negotiations. I’m amazed people don’t yawn en masse at the announcements.

Each time they play the game, mainline news media give Israel endless positive coverage, as though something significant or hopeful were happening.

But Israel holds many thousands of Palestinians in prisons, including some very young people and people guilty of no crime, so the release of a couple of dozen is virtually meaningless.

And since these particular prisoners are ones convicted of crimes but nearing the end of long sentences, a slightly early release is truly meaningless: it is what happens in the prison system of every Western nation.

The amount of publicity garnered by this paltry act – day after day in all the big-name papers – couldn’t be bought for a billion dollars.

So why do we hear endlessly about nothing as though it were something?

It is only one more stark proof of the inordinate influence of Israel and its apologists have over our sources of information.

These “peace talks” will go nowhere, just as countless others in the past have gone nowhere.

Why is that?

The obvious harsh truth is that Israel does not want, and never has wanted, peace as anyone outside Israel understands it.

Israel wants more land, minus its undesirable Arabic people, and it has had a long, slow process of ethnic-cleansing going on for decades. Just look at the announcement of still more settlements in the West Bank and the ugly manipulations underway in East Jerusalem to separate people from property they’ve owned for centuries. None of it anything less than legalized theft of the property of others who are forced to live under Israeli rule with absolutely no rights.

There is a fundamental truth to human history, and that is that tyranny and abuse ultimately fail. They succeed for a while – the Soviet Union had a run of ninety years – but it is impossible to maintain such a repressive regime indefinitely.

Here is Israel going through the motions yet again of negotiating, only this time it negotiates with an unelected Palestinian, Abbas, the U.S. has propped up in office because of his compliant nature, one moreover who does not even pretend to rule the Palestinians of Gaza.

Peace will come only when the U.S. gets tough with Israel and stops subsidizing and protecting its brutality, and I suspect that will never happen.

________________________________

Note that a new law has been proposed in Israel. This law would allow Israel to seize the property of all “non-resident” Palestinians who own land in East Jerusalem (Arabic in population for centuries), Palestinians who happen to have their primary residence in the West Bank or Gaza.

It is the equivalent of the state of Florida proposing a law to seize all the condos and vacation properties of people who live in the other forty-nine states. It is actually worse than that because Israel as illegal occupier has no right in international law to legislate such matters over the heads of Palestinians.

Apart from the bitter irony of such a law – after all, Jews are supposed to have left what was Israel two thousand years ago, and you cannot get more “absentee” than that – it is extremely difficult to understand how property-worshipping Americans can stomach such rigged legislation.

Of course, the American mainline press carries virtually no mention of the proposal.

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Toronto has become a laughing stock with this whole long transit fiasco.

A guaranteed project with funding from the province (the Scarborough LRT), a project suitable to the real needs of Scarborough, is allowed to lapse.

Meanwhile, the Mayor and his followers, bellow about a subway being what people want.

But there are no means of financing a subway.

And when you ask people: “Would you rather have a new Chevy or a new Rolls?” without any reference to what it will cost them, you are asking a pretty stupid question, but that is Mayor Ford’s approach to transit.

Costless wants are nothing but childish fantasy, not serious political mandates.

Further, given the nature of the Scarborough route, a subway this far out makes no economic sense.

Previously, Toronto built the Spadina Subway – in effect, a subway to nowhere – and that line never reached the capacity required to justify it.

At that time, the Yonge Subway was already at capacity.

Subways are the most expensive public transportation you can build, and they make no sense in semi-suburban locations.

Years ago, we should have built a Queen Street subway, for that is the kind of location that would warrant the huge cost.

Today, with costs having risen hugely, subways are so terribly expensive to build that many cities in the world are going with light-rail.

It does seem that Toronto’s situation would be best served by a good light-rail system combined with restrictions on private car access downtown, at least during rush hours.

It is well to remember, too, that Toronto proper has a great stock of extremely modest homes. They will not bear great increases in tax.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY AURAL BRAUN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

More intellectual crap from Aural Braun.

Mr Braun is a full-time lobbyist for the interests of the Israeli-U.S. effort to re-shape the planet.

Mr Putin, as one of the true independent-minded statesmen of our time, is of course at odds many times to a dangerous vision of world affairs.
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“Please, Obama is a joke. He is a complete amateur, never worthy or prepared to be president.”

I wish it were true that Obama’s behavior could be explained by “amateur” status.

But it cannot be.

He came to office with dreams and enthusiasms and some sound thinking, but in the face of the forces which truly govern America, he quietly threw up his hands and has become effectively a hostage.

He undoubtedly feared assassination, but it is not just such a dark threat which likely influenced him.

Day to day, he works with a relatively small group of people – military and intelligence officials, members of the imperious Senate, big money political contributors, including the powerful Israel Lobby – and that group is not friendly to the language of an Obama before election.

Look at any other notable American politician and presidential aspirant, and you see the same thing at work.

Hillary Clinton, over the last 20 years or so, has gone from a rather idealistic person to an unpleasant, acerbic advocate of Imperial America. She has told bald-faced lies in public countless times and uttered words which might have been written by an old crypto-Nazi like Dick Cheney.

Her husband was once a man of some ideals, too, but his two terms in office were marked by not one achievement of any worth, and he became little more than a kind of giant vacuum cleaner for political donations, setting some ghastly precedents like selling nights in the Lincoln bedroom of the White House or pardoning a big-time criminal at the end of his term in exchange for many millions of political dollars.

This is the modern reality of imperial America: elections at the highest level simply do not matter. By the time a politician has managed to scrabble to become a contender, with all the endless secret begging for campaign funds, he or she has become part of the problem, not the solution.

In economics, we speak of barriers to the entry of markets. The American campaign finance system requiring truckloads of private money to run is effectively a barrier to entry in the political market, a barrier against the idealistic or those who would do anything to interfere with America’s entrenched governing establishment: the military-industrial-intelligence complex along with such powerful special interests as the Israel Lobby.

This barrier is reinforced by a duopoly of parties in that market, each being not very different than the other, except in some volatile social interests of no concern to the establishment.

And anyone who even chances to pass over those barriers faces everyday life with some dark and powerful people who will not watch their power diminished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Terrorism?

What a joke.

The United States just murdered a number of innocent Yemenis with a drone strike.

That is indeed terror, state terror.
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There is not, and never has been, an organization called al Qaeda.

We have the words of several important statesmen, including a former British foreign minister, that the word was only used inside the American government as a catch-all for “bad guys” in certain regions of the world.

The word actually means “hole” or “sewer.” Can you imagine a secret fierce group calling itself “sewer”?

Yet the continued use of the term – repeated over and over in the press – undoubtedly lends weight to vague assertions about threats, and that is precisely why Washington continues to use this ridiculous language.

So why does the press keep repeating the nonsense?

The answer is found in the degree of genuine independence of thought and investigation exhibited by our mainline press, and that is simply not much.

It is not an organization. It does not send e-mails. It does not write press releases. If indeed it were an organization and it did these things from time to time, does any thinking person not understand that NSA and others would locate them quickly, causing the launch of drones in minutes?

But there are some pretty nasty people out there in the world. The United States has cynically used some of them again and again to get something it wants, the latest being the effort to topple the government of Syria.

It used them in Afghanistan – twice: once to fight the Russians in the 1980s, and a second time to defeat the Taleban government and carry out acts of terror like the murder of thousands of Taleban prisoners – and in Libya and in other places.

The United States in using these people and heavily assisting them – aided by its friends Israel and Turkey – is responsible for more terror in Syria alone than any so-called terrorist group could conceive of doing on its own anywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

What we have in the killing of Sammy Yatim is simple: a policeman shot and killed a man who was a threat to no one.

The victim had what amounted to an ordinary pocketknife, a three-inch blade, virtually incapable of killing anyone, and especially a policeman in his heavy armored vest.

One of the first rules of expert negotiators in hostage-takings is to test whether the hostage-taker is ready to release some or all of his captives. Various initial ploys are used such as asking the release only of children or women.

When a hostage-taker complies with such a request, officials know they are dealing with a person of some conscience and reason, willing to show good will.

There were no passengers left on the streetcar. None. The man was absolutely not a threat.

Indeed, the poor soul was already in a portable jail, an empty streetcar. All police had to do was wait patiently for his giving up, perhaps calling in someone with common sense and talking skill.

No, instead, a police officer threateningly approaches with his gun, does not in the least engage in calming conversation, just utters a curt order, and shoots. Even a taser was unwarranted.

Animal keepers re-capturing an escaped lion or bear show more sense by a thousand times. Is a man’s life worth so little in Toronto today?

These military police methods are imported from the United States whose poisonous police have been cited many times by organizations such as Amnesty International for their brutality and lack of reason.

Chief Blair is wrong as he is almost always wrong – the most ineffectual police chief I can recall – there is no more evidence to be had in this matter.

The video tells the story with blinding clarity. The words of eight or so policemen, the only live witnesses, tell us nothing. Our police have become adept at lying even in court and always, without fail, defend a fellow police no matter how corrupt or brutal. Our poor management of police has allowed this to happen.

This shooting, at best, was the act of a simple coward. Police like to blubber about putting their lives at risk for the public, but that is not what we see here at all.

The officer faced no genuine threat. None. His acts resemble those of someone anxious to sweep a piece of garbage off the street, not those of a trained and thoughtful public servant.

After this and the G-20 fiasco, Toronto needs seriously to examine its hiring policies. There are tests which can be administered to candidates to weed out people with poor attitudes, weak intelligence, or pathological problems. They should act as a powerful filter against this kind of person becoming a policeman.

Training too clearly needs serious scrutiny and revision.

But most important is leadership: Toronto does not have any.

We desperately need to be able to fire incompetent officers easily. A man with a gun and a badge and virtual immunity against prosecution is far more dangerous than any disturbed man with a small knife.
_______________________

Police are hired muscle for the most part, and we have pretty well adopted the American model of a police force as an army.

The police force is a well-organized group of urban bouncers, each having great privileges, expensive equipment, and able to use lethal force

Most of them are experts in nothing, and the training they receive does not even deal with many of the things of greatest concern to society.

We forget these things at our peril as a decent society.

Television shows create the fiction of thoughtful, brave and highly-trained individuals risking their lives for us.

They also promote the illusion of resourceful policeman, something which in reality is not all that common.

Police organizations (really, crypto-unions) promote these same illusions and add the dangerous dimensions of always defending what cannot be defended and encouraging insubordination (as when Toronto police once demonstrated in uniform at City Hall against orders).

The behaviors of the RCMP officers at the Vancouver Airport, the police at the Toronto G-20, and the police surrounding poor Sammy Yatim are completely unacceptable in a free and decent society.

If we cannot gain some control over these new developments in police destructive incompetence, all our lives will be diminished.

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The recent record of teachers’ high absenteeism, including many 3-day weekends, demonstrates serious irresponsibility.

The generous terms of their employment – high salaries, big pensions, generous benefits, 6-hour days, and 8-month years – aren’t enough for them.

And when a teacher is absent for no good reason, the public is required to pay two salaries each day.

During labor negotiations we always hear the teachers’ special-interest plea about kids’ education needs, but teachers behaving this way really care about kids, don’t they? Or for that matter, care about anyone else?

Of course, the real problem is, and always has been, that teachers pretty much answer to no one once they are hired into a school.

And the problem is made worse by the fact that the entire system – from principals and superintendents to directors – is run by teachers, actually teachers who’ve left the class room and don’t want to teach any more.

And what is the genuine competence of the average teacher with his or her general BA and a few months at an academically-meaningless teachers’ college? Not much.

If the public doesn’t demand more for public education, we’ll never get it. Remember – setting aside former-Premier McGuinty’s years of empty rhetoric – Ontario in no way stands out in the world of education.

And now we have another premier, a former teacher as it happens, who will give and give and demand nothing in return – a formula for labor peace and political advantage but having nothing to do with genuine education.

We need an entirely new way of hiring and training teachers if we are to have reform.

Any motivated university graduate with an academic major or at least two minors or any motivated middle-aged professional should be able to spend two years in the class room as a substitute under supervision.

Eliminate the academically-meaningless teachers’ colleges.

And forget the overblown and inaccurate notion of teaching as a profession.

It is not, it is an avocation, an art, a skill, and sadly not enough of our current teachers, despite the formal qualification of teachers’ college, possess it.

And you must have something you know thoroughly – music, math, English – in order to teach effectively, which is not the case for so many general BAs. Indeed teachers’ colleges promote the fatuous notion of teachers as some kind of vaguely-defined facilitators who needn’t be expert in the subjects they teach.

Making teachers’ college a 2-year proposition – as our McGuintyesque Premier Wynne has done – is a guaranteed waste of resources and no route to improving education.

And we badly need real management of our schools – people who understand the effective management of human and physical resources – not the money-wasting system of boards and principles we have now.
_______________________________

From a reader:
“Those who can, TEACH. Those who can’t, CRITICIZE. (I’m neither a teacher nor a critic of teachers.)”

You’ve got the quote wrong, and your error is revealing.

Shaw said:

“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

A criticism of teachers from a wry, inveterate critic.

A world without serious critics would be an impoverished one indeed.

Some of the greats included Shaw, Voltaire, Johnson, Orwell, and Swift.

People like this writer want the same tired band to march in the same tired parade, playing the same tired tunes.

So, according to this writer, we don’t want critics, but hacks like the last director of TDSB are okay? He managed to weasel through a system which has no effective protections and no competent management. Indeed that fact is the most important lesson that should have been learned by those shameful events.

The “managers” at TDSB clearly never checked into his background. I am aware that he was a failure in Hamilton and, most importantly, a very big and wasteful spender, but none of Toronto’s “experts” were aware of the facts nor did they recognize serial plagiarism when they saw it.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

AN EXTENSION OF COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

I am not a Conservative, but already it is apparent that Kathleen Wynne, the new Liberal leader, is a disaster as premier.

She has exactly Dalton McGuinty’s smarmy instincts and political ethics.

One of the only worthwhile things done in his decade as the most irresponsible and inept premier in memory was his reminding the teachers of the fact that they are employees of the public at a time of fiscal difficulty.

This woman has wiped out the effort entirely.

And just look at her other acts over so brief a time as premier.

The investigation she launched into the cancer-drug scandal was genuinely McGuintyesque, a way to delay and put-off while appearing to do something. Any good private investigator could have got to the bottom of the matter in 3 days.

Her recent initiative on wind farms represents virtually no change from McGuinty’s high-handed ways. In Britain, for example, the government is giving local municipalities a veto over them.

Wynne has done nothing of substance about McGuinty’s several scandals of mismanagement.

No changes at e-Health beyond McGuinty’s last appointment resigning and getting a Golden Handshake for solving nothing at the troubled agency.

No changes in our forgotten air-ambulance scandal.

Her recent change in teacher education requirements are leftover initiatives of McGuinty.

The cutting of places in education colleges was something which should have been done years ago. It’s just basic housekeeping never kept up with, not reform.

The new two-year requirement for graduates is backward. Many other jurisdictions have realized that “teachers’ colleges” are ineffective. Putting well-educated and motivated young people – or indeed, not-so-young – into class rooms is what we need. Learn-by-doing under, say, two years of mentoring by experienced teachers is the reform we need.

Teachers’ colleges are staffed by teachers who dropped out of the classroom, who promote unscientific, and even plainly silly, theories about how things are done, and who use language which calls a spade a manually-operated excavating machine. Any intelligent young person will learn how their skills best serve teaching during a couple of years practicing, not the 80 days now proposed for teachers’ colleges and certainly not the present standard of 40 days.

Hasn’t our government learned anything about education? The previous director of TDSB was hired by people who clearly did not know what they were doing. He was likely awarded his doctorate by an education faculty who also did not know what it was doing.

Ontario schools are by no measure outstanding. Our public education is a leader in nothing. We don’t even compare to the world’s most successful systems. The computer hasn’t yet been integrated with many teachers unable to use them and our schools not supplying them to all students, a longstanding practice in a number of jurisdictions.

But this government can tell young people if they just spend more time in education faculties and waste more resources, adding costs and debt, they’ll be able to do a better job. Nonsense.

If “found money” – money supposedly suddenly discovered in declining enrolments – went anywhere, except applied to the deficit where it genuinely belonged, it should have gone towards obtaining computers for our students, but then we still have many teachers who cannot use a computer. Many jurisdictions put lap-tops into each student’s hands, but not Ontario, bastion of teachers’ union interests and second-rate education.

I’m going to vote Conservative for the first time in my life at the next provincial election, and I’m not even attracted to the leader, Mr. Hudak. A decade of McGuinty was enough, and Wynne shows every promise of being even worse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This is an important discovery for students of the period.

But I take exception to the Globe’s characterizing Rosenberg as a powerful figure.

He was not, indeed he was a quack, even by NAZI standards.

He held a position resembling that of some cardinal in the Vatican whose job it is to codify official doctrine.

He wrote stuff no one actually read and was regarded as a bit of a joke by the real players in NAZI Germany.

The real players all were men who lusted after power and influence, and many of them had little use for a good deal of NAZI doctrine.

Still, he heard a good deal of insider information, and he undoubtedly made some important observations.
_______________________

“I, for one, look forward to reading more about this discovery.
“Possibly the most shocking book I have read to date (actually I had to stop reading it, so graphic was it!) was a book I got at the Public Library and which is also available from booksellers:
The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders [Hardcover] Ernst Klee (Editor), Willi Dressen (Editor), Volker Reiss (Editor)
“Having also visited Dachau and the beaches of Normandy (twice), I believe we must never forget such atrocity and each of us has a responsibility to condemn racism in its many repugnant forms. Having lived as a stranger in a strange land, I cherish our rights and freedoms.”

Yes, but there was not just one atrocity.

Hitler was largely responsible for a war that killed more than 50 million people and destroyed the lives of countless millions of others.

The invasion of Russia was the most terrifying event in all of recorded human history with 27 million Russians being killed as well as millions of Germans.

The totality of destruction was like nothing seen before, or indeed since.

Its impact included decades of Soviet domination in Europe and the creation of Israel, which itself has been a trail of tears for millions.

The Holocaust itself was only launched using the chaos and massive brutality of the invasion of Russia as a cover.

Even Hitler didn’t dare such an undertaking without the being able to bury it, as it were, in an even greater horror.

And we should always remember that Hitler and World War War II were the result of the terrible business of World War I, a meaningless war in which 2 branches of a royal house fought for supremacy on the continent of Europe and managed to kill 20 million people.

The Treaty afterward was far too harsh on Germany, especially when the Great Depression rolled in, and the resulting set of conditions and the uncompromising acts of many statesmen gave us Hitler and another war.

Germany after WWI had a very liberal government with many enlightened views, but the West gave it no help and support in its many difficulties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO STAR

I believe we have Mayor Miller largely to blame for the Rob Ford farce.

Miller was an incompetent mayor and a blowhard talker.

He did a poor job of looking after basics – garbage, potholes, and the Gardiner’s maintenance – yet he chased after silly objectives tirelessly, as with his Don Quixote, anti-Island Airport campaign, all the while raising taxes regularly.

Ford is a form of Montezuma’s Revenge.

A lot of ordinary people like Ford’s inarticulate, shady, and rule-breaking ways, and they don’t care whether he’s an embarrassment to the city, which he most certainly is. He’s at least not blowhard Miller.

Readers may enjoy: http://chuckmancartoons.blogspot.ca/

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO STAR

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that reason won the day.

Harper’s position – a pathetic echo of vicious American policy – was ridiculous.

There is not an ounce of proof that Syria has used chemical weapons, although there is clear evidence that the rag-tag Free Syrian Army used a small amount of Sarin nerve gas in a couple of instances.

How did they get that horrible stuff? Supplied either by Israel or the US – both have stockpiles – to create an event excusing further intrusion into the affairs of others. Likely it was sent via one of America’s silent partners in Mideast mayhem, Saudi Arabia or Turkey.

Harper – in addition to his un-statesmanlike bullying of Russia – simply lied when he said that only Russia was against intervention. The Germans are also opposed, and others of the G-8 sit on the fence. Only the cowardly post-Blair British government eagerly wags its tail every time America looks their way.

Thank God, American efforts to create a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident for Syria failed, but still its destructive, underhanded efforts, and those of Israel with Turkish and Saudi cooperation, keep the Syrian people in misery.

A dirty shame, just like our prime minister, who incidentally also failed on trade talks with the EU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Red, white, and blue?

Of course.

Harper is, and always has been, an American wannabe.

In almost every policy and utterance, he takes his lead from right-wing Americans.

In everything from secret slush funds and dishonest campaign techniques to his insanely unbalanced statements about the Middle East, Harper is the American Establishment’s man north of the border.

So, it’s only fitting that he use red, white, and blue – even if the blue a tad different to that of America’s red, white, and blue.

The new paint does perhaps have the advantage of offering some protection on trips abroad, protection against being instantly shot down by trigger-happy American thugs at the controls of drones and fighters and missile batteries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO STAR

Nice to know that the PMO spends time and resources on rubbish like sending out compilations of photostats about Justin Trudeau’s past, paid speaking engagements for charities to local newspapers in hopes of generating some bad press.

I genuinely believe Harper is the worst bully we have ever had in high office -indeed, he’s the only one, truly in a class by himself.

Harper’s repeated low-life attack ads didn’t work against the attractive Trudeau, so he tried another avenue of attack, that of sending out press kits to local newspapers about a matter which doesn’t even qualify as a tempest in a teapot.

It is perfectly normal for people with big names to speak for fees – it happens thousands of times a year. Tony Blair and his wife have cleared millions that way. So has Bill Clinton.

And did anyone notice Harper’s shabby bullying behavior at the G-8? All but calling Putin, the only real statesman in the bunch, names? That’s what bullies do when they don’t get their way.

I suggest our public schools put together a new curriculum on bullying, one that features Stephan Harper as an example of how not to behave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

I’m glad Prince Harry has done one worthwhile thing in his life in speaking up for a bullied soldier in his unit in Alberta.

It’s nice for change.

Prince Harry has a long record of thoughtless and graceless and even nasty behavior.

See: http://chuckmangrotesques.blogspot.ca/2013/01/harry-is-prince-mad-he-does-have.html

I happen to believe Harry got the worst part of his mother’s genes, the late Princess being attractive and charming in public but privately suffering from serious mental conditions, something of which her family has a history.
_______________________________

“We knew Harry had been in Afghanistan, but he was made to go to Alberta, too? Is there a reason why he is being punished?”

Harry was not made to go to Afghanistan.

He insisted, to the point of threatening to resign his commission, on being sent there for some “action.” All quite shameful actually.

The high command had decided that it was too risky to send him when he asked, but after his whining and threatening to quit his commission, he was sent for one brief tour which was mainly an extended photo-op of the Prince and the machine gun, something which might just as well have been done on a sound stage.

He insisted and was sent again, managing to kill someone and spent a good deal of time back home bragging about it.

This is a bored, not-too-bright young man with an apparent thirst for brutality.

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