Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Worry grows over Sask. uranium exports

CBC News

Fears that Saskatchewan uranium may be used in weapons have been triggered by a newly signed export agreement with India.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed a nuclear co-operation agreement on Sunday with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in Toronto for the G20 summit. It allows for uranium exports to India and technological exchanges that could be worth billions to Canada's nuclear industry.

Ann Coxworth, of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, said she fears the federal deal could make it possible for Saskatchewan's uranium to end up in weapons.

"We need to very seriously consider whether exporting uranium around the world is the kind of business that we should be in," said Coxworth.

Gramsci on crisis and resistance

Antonio Gramsci

“A crisis cannot give the attacking forces the ability to organize with lightning speed in time and space; still less can it endow them with fighting spirit.

Similarly, the defenders are not demoralized, nor do they abandon their positions, even among the ruins, nor do they lose faith in their own strength or in their own future … Mass ideological factors always lag behind mass economic phenomena … therefore, at certain moments, the automatic thrust due to the economic factor is slowed down, obstructed or even momentarily broken by traditional ideological elements - hence, there must be a conscious, planned struggle to ensure that the exigencies of the economic position of the masses, which may conflict with the traditional leadership’s policies, are understood.

An appropriate political initiative is always necessary to liberate the economic thrust from the dead weight of traditional policies.”

— Antonio Gramsci, ‘The Modern Prince’ and ‘State and Civil Society’

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Voices of Saskatchewan activists at the G 20 - - community radio

Don Kossick
Making the Links

We are playing this special Making the Links radio program June30th at 6 pm Saskatchewan time on community radio.

You will be hearing the voices of Saskatchewan activists who were in Toronto. Teacher Adminstrator Rick Sawa, Law Professor Tim Quigley and President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Larry Hubich.

They will be talking from the frontline of where citizens were demonstrating for a fairer and more just world.

As the dust has settled it has become clear that Toronto was turned into a Militarized Fortress. The police force of almost 20,000 attacked and arrested over 800 people who were peacefully protesting.

There is every reason to believe the confrontation with the Black Bloc was a designed provocation to come after peaceful protestors, and focus media attention on that confrontation instead of the real issues raised by the 25,000 people that marched peacefully in the streets of Toronto.

The G 20 meeting itself worked against the best interests of citizens throughout the world. World leaders made an agreement to cutback public services and infra structures that are so important to needs of people. Under advisement of the B 20 – the corporate leadership of the world – who attended the closed sessions of the G 20, they adopted a austerity plan that will bring no help to the women and children who will die preventable deaths because the leadership of the most developed nations only promised a fraction of what is needed for healthy communities.

The structural adjustment pledged to by the G 20 leaders – and lead by Stephen Harper – will mean more fire-sale sell offs of public services and cutbacks to social services.

Canadians should hold Prime Minister personally accountable for the unjustified force used against Canadians peacefully demonstrating – the enormous 1.2 billion expenditure of the G 8 and G 20 – and the adoption of economic policy that only serves the global corporate agenda.

For more about what really took place go to our In Cahoots partner

FSIN chief wants an Oka-style revolution

By Andrew Matte
Windspeaker Contributor, REGINA
Volume:28 Issue: Year: 2010

First Nations leaders from across Saskatchewan took turns slamming non-Native governments during the two-day spring assembly of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.

Among top complaints from chiefs, federation senators and other leaders were Saskatchewan’s plan to reduce the number of cigarettes that can be purchased tax-free on First Nations, as well as what leaders complained was a lack of consultation from governments with First Nations in the province.

Other issues, including the treatment of First Nations children placed in foster care, gang violence, funding for First Nation initiatives and rural Saskatchewan roads were included in dozens of speeches made during the assembly held in Regina on June 9 and 10.

The strongest words came from Gordon First Nation Chief Glen Pratt, who slammed the province over its duty to consult, an obligation that springs from Supreme Court of Canada decisions that have ruled that government must consult First Nations whenever decisions are made that affect treaty and territorial rights.

Exploitation and Exclusion: The International Struggle

By Michael A. Lebowitz

Everyone who knows Hari knows that his life has been one of struggle against imperialism and in support of the right of the oppressed to struggle for a decent life. His theme, indeed, might be that of the Communist Manifesto's assertion that 'the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.'

Underlying that theme is the premise that everyone has the right to the full development of her potential and that the society that we must struggle to build is one based upon the principle of 'to each according to her need for development.' As Marx understood, in such a society, 'the development of the human capacities on the one side [cannot be] based on the restriction of development on the other' (Marx and Engels, 1988: 190-2).

This is, of course, a concept of entitlement -- one based upon the centrality of human development, the premise from which Marx wrote his critique of capitalism (Lebowitz, 2003: 203, 209). I have tried to sketch out some of its dimensions in a new book (The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development) by introducing the concept of a Charter for Human Development:

Monday, June 28, 2010

G20 Toronto Black Block get green light to rampage?

A very good synopsis of how the black bloc protest went down and how police let it happen for 24 blocks and 90 minutes.

Housing Crisis in Saskatchewan: PATHS Report

Saskatchewan Office
June 28, 2010
Provincial Association of Transition Houses

In Saskatchewan, homelessness has become a grave concern and a serious reality for many women and children. Saskatchewan now has the highest rates of homelessness in the country with one in five people saying that they are homeless or at risk of being homeless. In the past 3 years in Saskatchewan the vacancy rate has been dropping with the rate for 2009 being 1.5%. Regina and Saskatoon have vacancy rates below 1%.

Homelessness is compounded by poverty. More than 41% of female-headed lone-parent families in Saskatchewan struggle to provide the basic needs of their families because they live below the poverty line. Saskatchewan has the third highest child poverty rate in Canada.

With sky-rocketing home ownership costs and a constantly decreasing availability of safe and affordable housing, the women and children of Saskatchewan who are attempting to exit abusive situations are faced with incredible challenges. If women cannot find adequate and affordable housing their chances of succeeding in leading lives free from violence are diminished.

While the causes and consequences of violence against women exist beyond housing, there is no question that without an adequate, suitable and affordable home to which one can escape, women are choosing to stay in violent relationships or return to abusive partners because they feel they have no other option.

To read the full PATHS report, visit here.

iMarx iManifesto

Apple dishes out millions of free copies of the Communist Manifesto

New Left Project

The factory workers of Foxconn in China being forced to the edge of suicide will take little comfort from this, and it's certainly not what Karl Marx had in mind when he said the bourgeoisie creates its own gravediggers.

However, Apple's decision to free distribute free copies of The Communist Manifesto to millions of iPhone owners seems a curious twist as the firm now makes $5.7 billion in profits on annual turnover of $36.5 billion by exploiting cheap, ununionised workers in China.

Owners of the iPhone with the latest iOS4 can download iBooks without charge - allowing them to download the Communist Manifesto for free. The world's best selling political publication can be copied, pasted, highlighted and annotated.

The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 by Friedrich Engels, Marx's sponsor, editor and closest associate - is also available for free. Marx's The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte and Selected Essays are also free, along with selected extracts of Das Capital.

Lenin's State and Revolution has also gone on sale at £9.49 while the only Trotsky publication is An Appeal to the Toiling, Oppressed and Exhausted People's of Europe - a timely launch of the ebook - at £4.49. It would be interesting to know if this edition is available in China.

“To Have and To Be”: Building a Socialist-Feminist Economy in Venezuela

By Lidice Navas and Susan Spronk
and Jeffery R. Webber

(Caracas, Venezuela) -- A long-time revolutionary activist, Lidice Navas is an important socialist-feminist leader within the PSUV and a candidate for the Latin American parliament, among her many other responsibilities. We met her at the Women’s Development Bank in Caracas on June 18, 2010 to talk about her vision of socialism, the accomplishments of the Bolivarian process so far, and what remains to be done.

1.What is your political history?
I am a candidate for the PSUV in Caracas. I am also a member of the Political Bureau of the Region of Caracas and a candidate for the Latin American parliament. I also have some responsibilities in the Women’s Development Bank (Banco de Desarrollo de la Mujer, BanMujer) and am also active as a coordinator in the parroquia El Valle, where we are trying to construct socialism from the level of the community.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Mass Arrests, the Security State and the Toronto G20 Summit

Socialist Project Bullet

The massive police presence in Toronto over this week has been officially justified on the basis of protecting the leaders of the G8 and G20 countries meeting in Huntsville and Toronto. We were told that the creation of the fenced-in fortress, the massive mobilization of police (estimates ranging from 10-20,000) from across Canada, and even the passing of a secret law on policing (by the executive of the Ontario government without reference to the Legislative Assembly and the opposition parties) that made it a crime to appear within five metres of the security fence would protect our right to protest as well.

This is not what has unfolded in Toronto over the weekend.
Read more here.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Massive Rally Calls on G20 to Put People Ahead of Banks

Published on Saturday, June 26, 2010 by Agence France Presse

TORONTO - Ten thousand people marched against the G20 summit Saturday to protest for jobs and social causes, in a largely peacefully rally that saw nevertheless saw outbreaks of violence on its fringes.

A protester gestures towards riot police while marching along the streets of downtown Toronto during the G20 Summit on Saturday, June 26, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette) While the main body of the march was a well-marshaled event, led by older activists and organized labor, small groups of young hardliners scuffled with riot officers and set fire to at least two patrol cars.

In addition to the two which were set ablaze, at least three more cars were damaged in downtown Toronto's financial district, and the air was thick with the smell of vinegar-soaked rags used to ward off police tear gas.

One million protest against Italy's austerity cuts

The Irish Times
Sat, Jun 26, 2010

ROME – Italians marched through cities and towns yesterday in a general strike protesting an austerity budget they say bleeds workers but spares the rich.

The left-leaning CGIL union called the strike in an effort to force prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government to redraft a €25 billion austerity package he says is an essential part of European efforts to save the currency.

The website of the CGIL, Italy’s largest union, said more than one million people took part in various demonstrations in large and small cities around the country.

About 100,000 people, according to union estimates, demonstrated in the central city of Bologna, capital of a traditionally leftist area with a strong labour movement.

In Rome, a long line of protesters blowing whistles and waving red CGIL flags snaked past the Colosseum. Organisers put the turnout at 40,000 people.

In Milan, the CGIL said 80,000 attended a rally, but police estimated the figure at 35,000.

Many of Friday’s marchers also bore placards against car maker Fiat, which is wrangling with unions over plans to improve labour productivity at a plant in southern Italy.

“We say No to this budget. It is wrong, unjust, it stunts growth, it does not kick-start production, it doesn’t touch the rich and it punishes workers,” said union leader Fulvio Mammoni to a crowd of tens of thousands in Naples.

After months of telling Italians they were immune to a Greek-style debt crisis, Mr Berlusconi’s cabinet in May approved an austerity plan, including cuts to funding for municipalities and freezing of public sector salaries.

The government said a random poll of 30 per cent of state workers showed that fewer than 3 per cent of them had heeded the strike call as of early yesterday afternoon.

Support for the stoppage seemed mixed in some areas, despite the union’s judgment that adherence was “massive”. Several bus and metro services in Rome still ran.

The strike was a test of strength for Mr Berlusconi, whose poll ratings have sunk to new lows as unemployment has risen and the euro zone’s third largest economy has struggled to emerge from its worst post-second World War recession.

The strike has split Italy’s trade union movement, which is divided along political lines. The other two main unions have asked their members to stay on the job.– (Reuters)

The Thinking Man’s Marxist

From Montreal youth to Oxford chair, G.A. Cohen became one of our era’s great philosophical minds.

By Andy Lamey

Why Not Socialism
G.A. Cohen
Princeton University Press
82 pages, hardcover
ISBN 9780691143613

Gerald Allan Cohen was a product of the lost world of Canadian communism. His working class parents were Jewish Marxists who toiled in Montreal’s garment trade. In 1945, when Cohen was four years old, they enrolled him in the Morris Winchevsky School. Morning classes were taught in English and covered conventional topics. But in the afternoon the language of instruction switched to Yiddish and the lessons included the history of class struggle.

One day in 1952, Quebec’s Red Squad raided the school, hoping to find communist literature. The political innocence of Cohen and his classmates was preserved by a quick-thinking teacher who put on a happy voice and clapped her hands as the police arrived: “Children, the Board of Health is inspecting the school and you can all go home early.” Cohen and the other delighted students ran outside, unaware they had McCarthyism to thank for their freedom.
Read more here.

Vision of the future: Dune

By Damien Perrotin
The View from Brittany

Science-fiction tells us more about the dreams, hopes,, and fears of a time than about any actual form the future could take. It may, however, sometimes offer us a glimpse through a glass, darkly, of how this future might come to be. That is why Kunstler's The World Made by Hand and Greer’s Star's Reach are so interesting to read. They are not the only novels on this subject, however. Other science-fiction classics, not necessarily of the post-apocalyptic sub-genre, may help us to grasp what the fundamentals of a post-peak society could be. Frank Herbert's Dune is one of those.

Even though spice is definitely a metaphor for oil and Arrakis definitely a metaphor for Arabia, the Dune universe has little to do with what a post-peak world is likely to look like. It has a Galactic Empire, spaceships, and an advanced, if somewhat vintage, technology – the book was written in 1965 after all. Yet, when you look beyond the Ixian machines and the Bene Gesserit's breeding program, the logic of the Dune society is not unlike what you could expect from a severely resource-constrained society.

VIDEO: The G8 "Solution" to the Crisis is the Cause of Economic Collapse

By Michel Chossudovsky

Friday, June 25, 2010

Of trial balloons and hot air

By Mike Burton and Joyce Green

The chattering classes are making much of what some claim to be a mooted prospective Liberal/NDP merger. The story is making it onto editorial and front pages and into the priority news lineup. Is there any virtue in exploring the idea? We suggest the merger story is a waste of time for two reasons.

First, it deals with a symptom -- the inability of political parties to obtain an absolute majority -- rather than the cause, Canada's current electoral system and our mediocre democratic involvement in it. Second, it distracts us from real political issues, framing politics as a sports-like process of strategic arrangements creating winners and losers.

Tommy Douglas Debates Dr. Marc Baltzan - 1982

Tommy Douglas Debates -

Venezuela to Nationalize US-Owned Oil Rigs

Venezuela has said that it will nationalize 11 oil rigs owned by a US company.

The takeover of the rigs, owned by the Helmerich and Payne oil firm, is the most recent move in a program of nationalization as part of the socialist 'Bolivarian revolution' of Hugo Chavez, the president.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Faux News North?

By Simon Enoch

It now seems a certainty that we will soon have our very own “Fox News North” cable channel as Quebecor is poised to launch “SUN TV News,” a 24-hour news channel aimed at “more conservative viewers.” While Quebecor has recently tried to deflect accusations that it will adopt a conservative point of view, its main architects are a bastion of Canadian conservatism, with Quebecor CEO and Tory supporter Pierre Karl Peladeau bankrolling the project and Kory Teneycke – a former chief spokesperson for Stephen Harper – slated to run the channel. Rumours that right-wing media darling Ezra Levant is being courted to host one of the station’s opinion shows further points to the channel’s conservative credentials.

Movie Review: "Jonah Hex"

By Blake Deppe
Peoples World

Jonah Hex
Directed by Jimmy Hayward, starring Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox
2010, 80 min., PG-13

Have you ever seen an anti-war Western film? If the answer is no, I recommend you start with "Jonah Hex." Released on June 18 and based on the graphic novel of the same name, this is neither a campy nor a superhero-related comic adaptation. Call it a supernatural action film or a gritty Western - this movie doesn't quite know what to be, genre-wise, and that's a good thing, because it raises the bar for originality.

Joan Hinton, Physicist Who Chose China Over Atom Bomb, Is Dead at 88

 New York Times

Joan Hinton, a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, which developed the atom bomb, but spent most of her life as a committed Maoist working on dairy farms in China, died on Tuesday in Beijing. She was 88.

The cause has not yet been determined, but she had an abdominal aneurysm, her son Bill Engst said.

Ms. Hinton was recruited for the Manhattan Project in February 1944 while still a graduate student in physics at the University of Wisconsin. At the secret laboratory at Los Alamos, N.M., where she worked with Enrico Fermi, she was assigned to a team that built two reactors for testing enriched uranium and plutonium.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Global Labour Frames Future in Vancouver

Nine-hundred delegates from all over the world to vote on green social justice agenda.

By: By Tom Sandborn

The international labour movement has arrived in Vancouver this week, and is preparing to take its prescription for healing the world economy to the summer's upcoming G8 and G20 summits. Global labour's point man, Guy Ryder, told The Tyee he represents a movement that has been hurt by business globalization and anti-union ideologies, but is resilient and building strength in areas far from the industrial heartlands of the most developed nations.

Secretary general of the International Trade Union Confederation Ryder, a Cambridge graduate, was trim, relaxed, eloquent and dapper in a well cut grey suit when he spoke with The Tyee this spring, in town for preliminary meetings in advance of the ITUC's second world congress that runs June 21-25 in Vancouver.

Roundup resistant weeds pose environmental threat


When the weed killer Roundup was introduced in the 1970s, it proved it could kill nearly any plant while still being safer than many other herbicides, and it allowed farmers to give up harsher chemicals and reduce tilling that can contribute to erosion.

But 24 years later, a few sturdy species of weed resistant to Roundup have evolved, forcing farmers to return to some of the less environmentally safe practices they abandoned decades ago.

That ’30s Feeling

New York Times

Suddenly, creating jobs is out, inflicting pain is in. Condemning deficits and refusing to help a still-struggling economy has become the new fashion everywhere, including the United States, where 52 senators voted against extending aid to the unemployed despite the highest rate of long-term joblessness since the 1930s.

Many economists, myself included, regard this turn to austerity as a huge mistake. It raises memories of 1937, when F.D.R.’s premature attempt to balance the budget helped plunge a recovering economy back into severe recession. And here in Germany, a few scholars see parallels to the policies of Heinrich Brüning, the chancellor from 1930 to 1932, whose devotion to financial orthodoxy ended up sealing the doom of the Weimar Republic.

If You’re in My Way, I’m Walking

Workman, Thom. 2009. If You’re in My Way, I’m Walking: The Assault on Working People Since 1970. Halifax: Fernwood. ISBN 9781552663264. Paperback: 22.95 CAD.

Reviewed by Govind C. Rao
McMaster University

Jean Chrétien explained his throttling of protester Bill Clennett on ‘Flag Day’ in 1996 with the simple statement: ‘I had to go, so if you’re in my way, I’m walking.’ Not only is the incident one politician’s knee-jerk reaction when faced with popular resistance to neoliberal policies, it is an apt description of the steamrolling central logic of neoliberalism. Workman draws on vivid examples and copious facts and figures to document the assault on working people. This violent assault is often disguised as the ‘natural’ outcome of the market, but its impact is as real as a ‘Shawinigan handshake.’ The reader will be forgiven if, having read Workman’s description of current wages and working conditions, she feels like Chrétien himself has got his hands around her neck.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The G20, Capitalism and Austerity

Socialist Project Bullet

The Group of Eight (G8) is an annual forum for the leadership of the leading capitalist countries. It was first created in 1975 (then as the G6, as Canada did not join until the next year to form the G7, and Russia was not added until 1997), at the instigation of the U.S. and France to deal with the economic crisis that had broken out in 1973, and the need to re-make the international economic order. In particular the international financial and trading systems had to be reconstructed in the wake of the falling apart of the gold-exchange system and of the fixed exchange rates between national currencies.

One of its objectives of the G7 was to re-affirm the U.S. dollar as the anchor to the global economy, and begin to co-ordinate an agenda among the leading powers to push-back against the encroachments being made by non-capitalist regimes around the world, particularly in the Global South, and by Left parties in the capitalist core countries. Its second agenda item was to begin forming the neoliberal policy agenda as the regulatory framework for economic policy-making. In other words, the work of the G8 has been central to the making of neoliberal globalization, and the various Summit resolutions can be read as a summary of that progress.

Read more here.

Reel Injun: Playing in Regina

The following film is showing at the Regina Public Library at 9:00 p.m. Friday, 7:00 p.m. Saturday, and 9:00 p.m. Sunday. Reel Injun (PG) (Canada 2009, 85 min.)

''For decades, Aboriginal people were frequently represented in Hollywood films, but these depictions were almost always deeply negative and wildly inaccurate. Worse still, as the feature documentary Reel Injun carefully observes, this screen presence had a very real impact on Aboriginal people and on non-Aboriginal people's ideas of who they were.

Director Neil Diamond takes us on a highly entertaining road journey in which he interviews a broad range of Native actors, directors, writers, journalists and stand-up comics as they discuss how these negative representations affected their own self-image and how key positive images inspired them. Adam Beach and Clint Eastwood talk about Beach's critically acclaimed performance as an alcoholic war veteran in Flags of Our Fathers.

Wes Studi, one of the busiest Aboriginal actors in America, discusses the landmark casting of Chief Dan George in Little Big Man. Reel Injun also features a revealing interview with Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native actress who attended the Academy Award ceremony in 1973 on behalf of Marlon Brando, who declined his Godfather win to protest discrimination against Aboriginal people by the film industry and the American government.''

 - Toronto International Film Festival

Celebrate National Aboriginal Day on June 21


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is pleased to encourage all members to join with Aboriginal Peoples and Canadians across the country in celebrating National Aboriginal Day on June 21.

National Aboriginal Day is marked each year on the same date to honour the achievements of Aboriginal Peoples in all areas, including the arts, language, reverence for the land and spirituality.

NUPGE president James Clancy says the holiday is a celebration that benefits Canadians on many levels.

"We value the partnerships we have formed over the years with Aboriginal workers and Aboriginal communities," Clancy says.

"NUPGE champions full human rights for all citizens, including the right to organize and bargain collectively. We believe this includes a national network of community-based services that allow us to fully participate in society. We must forever strive to end poverty and homelessness and to eliminate discrimination in all areas of employment."

Proclaimed in 1996

June 21 was first proclaimed in 1996 as an annual occasion to recognize the diverse cultures and outstanding contributions to Canada of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Collectively these groups make up the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.

The date was selected for several reasons, including the fact that it coincides with the summer solstice.

In 1982, the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations) called for the creation of a National Aboriginal Solidarity Day to be celebrated on June 21. In 1995, a similar recommendation was made by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. It called for a National First Peoples Day to be designated.

Also in 1995, a national conference of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, known as The Sacred Assembly, called for a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal Peoples to Canada.

The first National Aboriginal Day was proclaimed by the Governor General the following year. It is now part of a series of 'Celebrate Canada' days beginning on June 21 and followed by St-Jean Baptiste Day on June 24, Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27 and Canada Day on July 1.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

UNICEF: Cuba is an example in children protection

By Marcos Alfonso
Cuban Agency News

It is a never ending story. The US authorities don’t know what else to come up with in their efforts against Cuba.

The latest example of their sick manoeuvres is the inclusion of Cuba among the worst countries in terms of human trafficking in a US State Department report on this topic.

Then, the Cuban answer was immediate. The head of the North America Department at the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs Josefina Vidal described as “false and disrespectful” the US allegations on human trafficking and the unbelievable inclusion of Cuban among the worst.

A paradox: just five days previous to the release of the report, UNICEF representative Juan José Ortiz made this statement in Havana:

“On the planet, millions of children lack schools and vaccination against preventable diseases, besides being the object of labour and sexual exploitation in the international prostitution networks and none of them is Cuban”

The struggle for medicare in Saskatchewan

An excellent archival video recounting of Tommy Douglas's struggle to implement universal, publicly-funded health insurance in the province of Saskatchewan in the 1950s and 1960s. By 1970, following Saskatchewan's lead, this public health insurance system (Medicare) had been implemented across Canada.

The video is provided courtesy of Ms. Shirley Douglas, and the University of Toronto Health Studies Program.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reflections on the "Regina Riot"

By David Murray
Abbotsford Today

Last week when I was involved with the On to Ottawa Trek Historical Society’s celebration of 75 years since the Trek started in Vancouver. I came to realize just what my father was doing back in 1935.

When he boarded the trains to go to Ottawa to protest “Iron Heel” Bennett and his unfair practices against the unemployed and marginalized people of that time. He set forth on a path that even he could not realize what was about to happen to him and who he was about to meet.

My father “Bud” Murray was born in Qu’Appelle Saskatchewan and was very familiar with the landscape when he arrived in Regina June 30th 1935. He was 24 years old and had been riding the rails for 6 years during the “Great Depression”

"We’re All Born Atheists”: A Religious Person Defends Non-Belief

by: Be Scofield
Tikkun Daily

Being an atheist in America means being less than human. I know from personal experience, not from being an atheist but from being raised Christian in a conservative Christian town and holding negative biases about atheists. Like many others I thought that a belief in God was the foundation of morality, that Christians were superior to others and that atheists were a threat to believers.

I didn’t, however, reach this conclusion consciously after weighing the facts and examining the issue independently. But rather it was something so ingrained within the culture that it permeated the social conscience. And of course atheists were just one group among many targeted by some Christians. But for several years now there have been movements both religious and secular that have championed the rights of other marginalized groups such as gays, people of color and women. Now it’s time for religious and spiritual people to take a stand for non-believers of all varieties.
Read more here.

Now The People

Another great poster from the ITUC, again a simple and strong idea and well executed. A play on the old fish joining together to make a bigger fish image!


Afghanistan: The Longest Lost War

By James Petras

Despite the most advanced military technology, the drones, the Special Forces, the increase in the number of trainees, advisers, NGOers and the building of more military bases, the Resistance is winning. Despite almost a decade of warfare, including an invasion and occupation, the U.S. military and its allies and client-state armed forces are losing the war in Afghanistan.

Outside of the central districts of a few cities and the military fortresses, the Afghan national resistance forces, in all of their complex local, regional and national alliances, are in control, of territory, people and administration.

U.K.: Now to fight the cuts

Red Pepper

We have a matter of months to create an unprecedented movement against public spending cuts.

Back in April, Vince Cable said of public spending cuts: ‘Cutting too soon and pushing the economy back into recession will make the deficit worse, as tax receipts fall and benefit payments rise. The Conservatives’ so-called efficiency savings are particularly dangerous. They have no clue where or how these “efficiencies” will be made, making it likely they will be nothing more than a smokescreen for job cuts.’ Now he is part of a government forging ahead with £6 billion of cuts this year.

“Linked to the FMLN? Get out of Canada.”

So says Canadian authorities in case of Salvadorean refugee claimant
by René Guerra Salazar
BASICS Issue #20 July/Aug 2010

In a Kafkaesque turn of events, Salvadorean refugee claimant José Figueroa, a married father of three Canadian-born children, was ordered deported by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) for his past ties to the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN). The FMLN is El Salvador’s current governing party and was the opposition guerrilla coalition during the country’s 12-year civil war. IRB member Otto Nupponen issued the deportation order based on arguments from Ministry of Public Safety lawyers and a Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) report claiming that the FMLN “is or was engaged in terrorism and/or subversion”.

For thousands of Canadians of Salvadorean origin this is an outrage. Proud of their ties to the FMLN, Salvadorean-Canadians are bewildered at the decisions made by the relevant Canadian authorities in this case.

Che Guevara: Nathalie Cardone

Bargaining in an Era of Wage Restraint: Rethinking Strategies for the Public Sector

Socialist Project Bullet

With the Great Financial Crisis apparently over, economic and political elites across the developed countries have cynically ignored who caused the crisis and turned, as their solution, to cutting back social services and attacking the wages and conditions of public sector workers.

So far, they seem to be getting away with it. The crucial question everywhere is ‘where is the labour movement?’ It will not be enough to complain about unfairness or argue that such a strategy will not sustain the vulnerable recovery, or to call for militancy without laying the groundwork for a successful counter-response. If the labour movement cannot use this moment to reinvent itself and its relationship to the community, its recent marginalization will accelerate.

The Bullet produced below attempts to begin a dialogue on these issues in the concrete context of the fightback against public sector austerity in Ontario. It is a preface to an upcoming forum organized by the Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly that will provide a space for union and social activists to collectively discuss and strategize over what, concretely, needs to be done. It is a dialogue and process that needs to be occurring across Canada and North America with a sense of urgency and militancy.
Read more here.

Find the Balance: Shiftwork

SGEU's Shift Work Committee has produced a poster that features a vibrant, full colour original illustration depicting the issues that are most important to those who work non-standard hours. The poster offers shift workers strategies to help them find a balance in their lives. The poster is available to SGEU members.


(Click image for larger format)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jack Layton’s leadership test

Murray Dobbin's Blog

Today, Tuesday June 15, is a day the NDP‘s Jack Layton will face a leadership test. He is poised to make a decision to punish one of his MPs and it could stain his leadership for a long time to come.

As reported yesterday in the Vancouver Sun and other Canwest papers the party is in a state of near hysteria over what should have been a minor flap. But when the question of Israel and the Palestinians is involved, nothing is simple. The pro-Israel lobby and its friends are masters of taking advantage of any situation to promote their cause and vilify Israel’s critics. And it doesn’t matter if the victim is an icon of progressive politics.

In this case Vancouver East MP Libby Davies got bushwacked by a pro-Israel activist posing as a neutral – if not pro-Palestinian – blogger. After a rally for the Palestinians criticizing Israel’s deadly assault on the aid flotilla, a man approached Libby asking for an interview. As she always does, because she never hides her views, she complied. He immediately set her up with what he called a “background question.” He asked when the occupation began, 1948 or 1967.

Climate Change and the G20: Not Business as Usual!

Saskatchewan oilsands development could hurt environment: think-tank

By James Wood
Canwest News Service
June 13, 2010

A fact sheet released by the Alberta Pembina Institute compares “in situ” extraction used for deep reserves of bitumen — like those found in Saskatchewan — and the surface mining used for shallower deposits.

Based on two previous studies done by the organization, the fact sheet says in situ oilsands projects actually have greater emission of greenhouse gases and sulphur dioxide per barrel of bitumen produced than surface mining.

Simon Dyer, oilsands program director with the Pembina Institute, said as in situ development increases in Alberta there has been a tendency for industry and government officials to downplay its impact and present it as a more environmentally friendly option.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brit Conservatives Like Canadian Fairy Tale

Oh Canada: Osborne’s cuts fairytale
Written by James Meadway

George Osborne [Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom] has discovered Canada. It is, he tells us, a marvellous faraway land where a fearless government once managed to eliminate its entire budget deficit in three years.

Between 1994 and 1997, Prime Minister Jean Chretien reduced the Canadian deficit from 9 per cent to a small surplus. Laying into pampered civil servants like so many baby seals, he once clobbered 20 per cent off government spending in a single year.

On To Ottawa Trek: Hobo Radical Railway Theatre

Don't miss the 75th Anniversary Event in Regina tonight.

Syndicated from Media Co-op

Vancouver, BC. On Friday, June 11th, 2010, Five activists re-enact with comedy, drinks and historical facts, the begginings of the On to Ottawa trek Movement of 1935, at the Railway Station at the end of Glen Dr. South of Venables St.

Funny actors incite the audience sitting on the grass to join a march with locked arms across the railway to commemorate the folks who marched to the capital so many years back. Every one marches around with a sense of joy and melancholy, drinks and cigarettes on hands, a train passing-by honks and cheers to the crowd, the cops watch the spectacle from afar.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A political economy of FIFA's African adventure

Australian union plans to starve uranium industry of labour

We need more unions like this...NYC

Steve Gray

A major union expects others to join its campaign to "starve" Australia's uranium industry of workers.

The Electrical Trades Union has banned its members from working on uranium mines, nuclear power stations or any other part of the nuclear fuel cycle.

The ETU says other unions have expressed strong support for the campaign against uranium, which it has labelled the "new asbestos" of the workplace.

Advertisement: Story continues below"We're sick of hearing about nuclear power as the panacea of global warming, we're sick of people sweeping safety issues under the carpet," ETU secretary Peter Simpson said on Tuesday.

"Our view is there's enough ETU labour in the place ... that we'll be able to starve the industry out."

He was speaking at the launch in Brisbane of an anti-uranium DVD, When the Dust Settles, alongside pediatrician and activist Dr Helen Caldicott.

The DVD, to be sent to ETU members in Queensland and the Northern Territory, is a warning about the health risks the union says come with working with uranium.

Mr Simpson said Australian workers had already faced decades of exposure, and uranium was the new asbestos of the workplace.

"Over the next 10 or 15 years we're going to see the downside of (uranium)," he said. "They've had 30 years to pretty much do what they like and we believe now's the time to put the line in the sand. "... we want to get all unions and all community groups on board and start taking the fight back up to the uranium industry."

Corporate land grab threatens Canadian farmers

NFU Report warns: Corporate land grab threatens Canadian farmers

Written by NFU
Sunday, 13 June 2010

SASKATOON, Sask.—In countries around the world, including Canada, corporations, investors, and foreign interests are buying up farmland. The National Farmers Union (NFU) today released the first report of its kind documenting Canadian developments in a global land grab.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

On-to-Ottawa Anniversary Highlights from BC

Working TV

Highlights from the June 6, 2010 celebration in Crab Park, Vancouver to mark the 75th Anniversary of the 1935 On to Ottawa Trek (
On June 3, 1935 more than 1200 single unemployed men, members of the Relief Camp Workers' Union, "hopped freights" in Vancouver determined to take their demands for "Work and Wages" to the federal government in Ottawa. On July 1 police violently dispersed the men in Regina arresting the leaders and hospitalizing many more. Nevertheless the trek was a seminal event in Canadian labour history that led directly to unemployment insurance and other social programs.

AT WORK: Historical Images of Labour in Saskatchewan

"The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one."
~ Oscar Wilde

AT WORK is a digital exhibition presenting and exploring images of labour in 20th century Saskatchewan. The exhibition was produced by the University of Saskatchewan Archives in partnership with archives throughout the province.

As Beth Bilson, legal scholar, has recently noted, Saskatchewan "conjures up waving wheatfields, not smokestacks; grain elevators, not factories. The history of labour in Saskatchewan has not been the subject of extensive study. It is a subject that repays closer examination, however, for it reveals that, as with many aspects of the political, economic, and social history of the province, this history has features that mark it as distinctive and unique in Canada."

Contradicting the province's agrarian stereotype in June 2009 the Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour reported that the provincial labour force of 557,500 included 140,400 employees working for salaries in the public sector and an additional 294,900 in the private sector. Only 44,400, less than one tenth the total number of workers, were employed in agriculture.

To provide manageable limits we were guided by definitions of labour as "the social class who does manual or physical work for wages" and "productive, especially physical, work done for wages." Beyond our scope was the very considerable work of farm owners, who frequently wish to be seen as small business operators, providing both capital and management skills, in the pursuit of a profit. Similarly there is no attempt to document here the unpaid work, usually done by women, in their homes. We have not sought to highlight the work of those working in professions, although many are paid wages for their work.

Within these parameters we have attempted to show how varied waged work has always been in Saskatchewan and to describe how economic and social conditions have affected employment. Some of the images have been selected to suggest how issues of race, ethnicity and gender, have influenced labour.

The reproduced images were discovered at several of Saskatchewan's largest archives including the Regina and Saskatchewan offices of the Saskatchewan Archives Board, the City of Saskatoon Archives, and the Special Collections unit of the University of Saskatchewan Library. The Local History Room of the Saskatoon Public Library was a particularly rich source of images, as was the University of Saskatchewan Archives, which, in addition to documenting the history of the University, preserves the very extensive records of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, once one of the province's largest and most influential employers.

Visit the AT WORK website HERE.

Marx, Engels and Darwin

By Ian Angus