Saturday, February 19, 2011

Marx Reloaded!

Marx Reloaded website

Marx Reloaded is a 2011 documentary film written and directed by the British writer and theorist Jason Barker. The film features interviews with several well-known philosophers, among them those often associated with Marxism and Communist ideas, including Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, Nina Power, Jacques Rancière, Alberto Toscano and Slavoj Žižek.

According to the film’s website, “Marx Reloaded … examines the relevance of German socialist and philosopher Karl Marx's ideas for understanding the global economic and financial crisis of 2008—09” and further asks, in the context of an alleged revival of Marxist thinking, whether “communism might provide the solution to the growing economic and environmental challenges facing the planet”.

The film also includes animation scenes with Marx trapped in a surreal world resembling the 1999 science fiction-action film The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. In one such scene Marx encounters Leon Trotsky in a pastiche of the scene in The Matrix in which Fishburne's character Morpheus first meets Reeves' character Neo.

Layton caves on corporate tax cuts

Murray Dobbin's Blog

When Jack Layton announced yesterday that he was no longer pressing the Harper government to cancel its next round of corporate tax cuts (cost: $6 billion) he revealed that the NDP cannot figure a way out of the trap it has been setting for itself since Stephen Harper got elected five years ago. Stuck at 15-17% in the polls it has tried putting together clever packages of unconnected policies hoping they will do the necessary magic and get the party to 20% – where it needs to be in order to be a real force in the House of Commons.

They all failed, because there is no magic mix of disconnected policies. People can’t be bought with a tax reduction on their home heating bills.

Layton hopes that Canadians – fed up with the gridlock in the House and cynical about the whole ugly mess – will give him and the NDP credit for actually trying to get something done. It’s the same strategy they used with the Liberals and that time it worked because the Liberals – as right-wing as they were – were still interested in governing. That is how they held on to power for so many decades – they actually believed that government had a role to play in a capitalist society.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Angela Davis coming to Regina

By Marc Spooner and Patrick Lewis 
Act Up In Sask
Tuesday, 15 February 2011

We wanted to alert you to a special campus visit by Dr. Angela Davis
Dr. Angela Davis will speak to the university and broader community about being an agent of change.

Monday, March 7th, 2011
TIME: 5:15pm
WHERE: University Theatre, Riddell Centre

Introduction to be given by Dr. James McNinch, Dean, Faculty of Education

About Angela Davis:

Professor Angela Davis is an American political activist, educator and author. Davis was most politically active during the late 1960s through the 1970s and was associated with the Communist Party USA, the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panther Party. Prisoner rights have been among her continuing interests; she is the founder of "Critical Resistance", an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex. She is presently a retired professor with the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is the former director of the university's Feminist Studies department. Her research interests are in feminism, African American studies, critical theory, Marxism, popular music and social consciousness, and the philosophy and history of punishment and prisons. (

Dr. Davis' talk was made possible by the generous support of the following sponsors (to date):
Faculty of Education, V.P Academic Conference Fund, Humanities Research Institute, Dr. Charity Marsh, President Vianne Timmons, Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts, Faculty of Kinesiology, Faculty of Nursing, Social Policy Research Unit, & CUPE 1975

For more information please contact: or

Regina Solidarity Group

7th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week March 8-17, 2011

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international series of events held each March in cities and campuses across the globe. This year, Regina will be joining more than 50 cities around the world in raising awareness about the system of apartheid in Israel and build the growing international movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns. Join us in making 2011 a year of struggle against apartheid and for justice, equality, and peace.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Regina Union Members step-up to Support Pension Plan

CUPE Local 21

CUPE and other groups representing employees in the Regina Civic Pension Plan sent a strong message to City Council when they voted to support a contribution rate increase. At last month’s meeting, 12 of the 15 of the unions and associations in attendance voted to accept the rate increase. Two out of three dissenting groups represent civic managers.

“The vote clearly shows members are willing to step-up and pay more to protect their defined pension benefit,” says CUPE 7 President Lorne Chow, who represents Regina inside city workers. “They want City Council to do the same,” he adds. The Regina Civic Pension Plan, like many defined benefit plans across the country, is facing a serious funding shortfall due in large part to the financial crisis in 2008 and reduced expectations for investment returns.

The employers in the plan – which include the City of Regina, the Regina General Hospital, the Regina Public Library and the Regina Public School Board – want to deal with the deficit by replacing the existing plan with a vastly inferior one. But the employers’ proposal is not finding much support among the plan’s 3,900 members. More than two-thirds belong to CUPE.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Brother did you weep?

Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl

Eugene Forsey remembered in new book by daughter, Helen Forsey

“We are not afraid of asking our governments, which we choose and can control, to provide for us services which no one else can.” - Eugene Forsey


Eugene Forsey
In her new book, Eugene Forsey — Canada's Maverick Sage, Helen Forsey writes about her father’s vision of Canadian society and the essential role of government, always coloured with the lens of justice and equality, to be published by Blue Butterfly Press this spring.

Forsey was a vocal and highly respected Senator, a constitutional expert, a staunch trade unionist, as well as a committed socialist and member of the CCF (predecessor to the NDP) and the League for Social Reconstruction.

The book comes exactly at the right time. For the last two years, countries have been recovering from the worst economic collapse in decades. In Canada, a passionate debate continues between Canadians and politicians about the merits of continuous massive corporate tax cuts, the growing wealth of the top 1% wage earners and the lack of support for suffering working families who are barely scraping by. His words give strength to the idea that government has an active and permanent role to play in the lives of its citizens. His advocacy work, especially with the trade union movement, called for continued pressure for positive change in areas that would affect the majority of working people - pensions, unemployment insurance, welfare benefits, disability benefits and public health care.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

With global grain prices surging, corn ethanol looking dumber than ever

By Tom Laskawy
11 Feb 2011

Corn ethanol
There's nothing green about wasting corn for ethanol.Grist has been tracking rising food prices for some time -- and we're not the only ones. New York Times columnist and Nobel economist Paul Krugman has been writing on the subject, including some interesting analysis of the interaction of climate risk and food prices. Here's a key nugget from him regarding soaring wheat prices:

Why is production down? Most of the decline in world wheat production, and about half of the total decline in grain production, has taken place in the former Soviet Union -- mainly Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. And we know what that's about: an incredible, unprecedented heat wave.

Darwin Day in Saskatchewan

Friday, February 11, 2011

Global solidarity needed to protect public services

Campaign aims to defend vitally important public services around the world.

Canadian Union of Public Employees National President Paul Moist highlighted the need for global solidarity in protecting public services while attending the Council of Global Unions in Washington, D.C. in mid-January.

Representing Public Services International (PSI), a global union federation of public sector trade unions, Moist made a presentation on the Quality Public Services — Action Now campaign, which is set to launch on June 26 — World Public Service Day. It will bring together public and private sector unions in an international effort to ensure quality public services are affordable and accessible to all. Representing 20 million public service workers in 150 nations, PSI is leading the campaign.

The campaign will centre on a public services charter, which affirms the vital importance of public services around the world and Global Unions' commitment to work with the key actors — governments and international agencies, civil society, and business and enterprise — to pursue a new vision of quality public services.

A key campaign element is developing union-led coalitions in cities and towns to fight against growing attacks on public services.

Related individuals, organizations and significant events
More information on the charter and action plan can be found on the Quality Public Services Action Now! campaign website.

Housing action heats up in Regina

By Trish Elliott 
Act Up in Sask
Tuesday, 08 February 2011

The Regina Tenant’s Association is gathering steam. At a meeting Feb. 2, the group established a working structure and identified the following objectives:

* Promote solutions for tenants
* Increase awareness of tenant and landlord rights, responsibilities and obligations
* Provide educational materials for tenants and homelessness
* Advocate and assist Regina residents facing housing challenges

They have an email address ( ) and a website is on the way. The next meeting is March 9, 7 p.m. at the United Way office.

In other housing-related news, the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System has released a report titled Tracking the Tears: Homelessness in Regina. The report notes growing concern over the number of inadequately housed young families . “Despite strides in building and upgrading capacity of sheltering sites, it has become clear that we can no longer manage homeless through services - affordable housing must become part of the equation,” the authors state. Tracking the Tears is available at

Egyptian Jokes about Hosni Mubarak


Click image above for more.
The Interior Minister asks Hosni Mubarak to write a "Farewell Letter" to the Egyptian people. Mubarak replies: "Why? Where are they going?"

On a popular Egyptian radio show, the deposed president of Tunisia Zine El Abidine Ben Ali requests Nancy Ajram's song "I'm Waiting for You" . . . and dedicates it to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak dedicates a song to his people: "I May Get Upset with You, But I Will Never Leave You" (a famous song by Nancy Ajram).

Hosni Mubarak calls Zine El Abidine Ben Ali: "If you go to bed early tonight, will you please leave your hotel room key under the doormat for me?"

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak immolates himself in front of the Presidential Palace, demanding a change of "the people."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

National Farmers Union urges all MP’s to vote in favour of bill C-474

By Chris Davenport
Act for the Earth
07 February 2011

Saskatoon, SK—The NFU is urging all MPs to vote in favour of Bill C-474 in the House of Commons in Ottawa tomorrow. Bill C-474 would require that an examination of potential harm to export markets be undertaken before the sale of any new genetically modified seed is allowed.

“Canadians have consistently seen any initiative related to the increased scrutiny of biotechnology defeated in the House of Commons, as we saw with the debate over the labelling of food for the content of GM material. Now we have a simple little bill that asks that an analysis of market harm for new GM crops. This little step is entirely reasonable and would prevent farmers from taking the hit if major markets reject GM crops. Last year’s Triffid flax contamination incident is a perfect example of the harm that farmers suffer when GM contamination takes place in markets that don’t accept it” said NFU President Terry Boehm. “Farmers cannot afford to carry major market losses” he continued.

With the NDP and Bloc Quebecois set to support the bill and the Conservatives set to opposite, the Liberals are the swing vote. Yet, they appear ready to join the Conservatives in defeating it tomorrow.

“The Liberals are stating that the bill does not do what it was intended to do, and that the problem is with the bill itself. But, the fact is they have had ample opportunity to hear testimony for and against the bill and, importantly, to suggest changes or propose solutions. Moreover, the bill could pass as is. It is up to the government to define the details of implementation, not the bill itself. The legislation is enabling and the actual mechanism and process for assessing market harm would be developed through the regulatory process” stated NFU Vice-President Colleen Ross. “The Liberals have made the choice of inaction and coalescing with industry and government” concluded Ross.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Venezuela: Fundamental and General Principles

Here is the final installment of the 'Declaration of Principles' from the PSUV's Red Book:

Fundamental principles
Translated by Owen Richards
Translating the Revolution

The party holds to the Bolivarian ideal, the contributions of Ezekiel Zamora and Simon Rodriguez, as well as the contributions of struggle and organisation of the Indo-African-American peoples; it takes inspiration from the origins of Christianity, from the theory of liberation; it draws nourishment from scientific socialism and the experiences of its men and women who have fought for the revolution and the construction of socialism.

General principles

The party declares itself as:

* Anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist
* Anti-corruption
* Socialist
* Marxist
* Bolivarian
* Committed to the interests of the working class and the people
* Humanist
* Internationalist
* Patriotic
* Centralist
* Ethical and with revolutionary morality
* Defender of the rights of mother earth
* Defender of gender equality and equity
* Defender of the rights of the disabled
* Defender of participatory and protagonist democracy in society
* Political vanguard of the revolutionary process
* Original and creative
* Defender, driver and promoter of Popular Power
* Promoter of endogenous development
* Defender of equality in the heart of the organisation
* Critical and self-critical
* Based on the principles of democratic centralism and collective leadership
* Disciplined
* Practitioner of internal democracy in the party

The militants of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) must validate, with daily practice, all these principles, holding to Che Guevara's maxim when he said "the revolution is held in the heart to die for, not on the lips to live for", in this way, it will be completely honest and sincere when we say:
Socialist Homeland or death... We will triumph!

Potash Royalties and Mine Expansions

By Erin Weir
Progressive Economics Forum
February 2nd, 2011

Saskatchewan’s NDP opposition recently called for higher potash royalties, a position long advocated by this blog.

Not surprisingly, the Saskatchewan Party government and the potash companies have objected. The argument from Premier Brad Wall and PotashCorp CEO Bill Doyle seems to be that mine expansions are occurring in Saskatchewan only because of royalty concessions granted by the previous NDP government. Raising royalties would allegedly “risk expansions and the jobs.”

In fact, as I pointed out months ago, raising royalties would not necessarily mean doing away with incentives related to mine expansions.

Socialist International finally kicks out Mubarak

By Joshua Keating 
Foreign Policy
Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Socialist International -- the global federation of center-left parties that includes Britain's Labour Party and the French Socialist Party -- finally got around to expelling Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party this week, after giving Tunisia's RCD the boot last month. In a letter to the NDP, the International's Secretary General writes:

The current massive calls being made today by the citizens of Egypt for freedoms and rights point to the dramatic failure of the Egyptian government to deliver to its people and to the failings of the NDP to live up to its promises. The use of violence, with scores dead and injured, is totally incompatible with the policies and principles of any social democratic party anywhere in the world.

Consequently, we consider that a party in government that does not listen, that does not move and that does not immediately initiate a process of meaningful change in these circumstances, cannot be a member of the Socialist International.

We are, as of today, ceasing the membership of the NDP, however we remaindetermined to cooperate with all the democrats in Egypt striving to achieve an open,democratic, inclusive and secular state.

The obvious point here is that it's a bit rich for the International to suddenly discover that the NDP isn't democratic -- when it joined the federation in 1989, Egypt had already been under emergency rule for nine years. For that matter, it hasn't even been particularly socialist in recent years.

The International may want to consider a thorough housecleaning of its membership list. I notice, for instance, that still-refusing-to-step-down President Laurent Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front is still listed as a member.

The Long Rise of Capitalism

By Samir Amin
Monthly Review
February 2011

The long history of capitalism is composed of three distinct, successive phases: (1) a lengthy preparation—the transition from the tributary mode, the usual form of organization of pre-modern societies—which lasted eight centuries, from 1000 to 1800; (2) a short period of maturity (the nineteenth century), during which the “West” affirmed its domination; (3) the long “decline” caused by the “Awakening of the South” (to use the title of my book, published in 2007) in which the peoples and their states regained the major initiative in transforming the world—the first wave having taken place in the twentieth century.

This struggle against an imperialist order that is inseparable from the global expansion of capitalism is itself the potential agent in the long road of transition, beyond capitalism, toward socialism. In the twenty-first century, there are now the beginnings of a second wave of independent initiatives by the peoples and states of the South.

The internal contradictions that were characteristic of all the advanced societies in the pre-modern world—and not only those specific to “feudal” Europe—account for the successive waves of the social-technological innovation that were to constitute capitalist modernity.

Read more HERE.

Samir Amin is director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal and author of The Liberal Virus (Monthly Review Press, 2004), The World We Wish to See (Monthly Review Press, 2008), and most recently The Law of Worldwide Value (Monthly Review Press, 2010). This article was translated by Victoria Bawtree.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Canada's Position on Egypt Breaks With Other Western Countries

Montreal, February 4th, 2011

Lawrence Cannon, Canada's Foreign Affairs minister came out in support of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's plan for a "slow" transition to greater freedoms. Earlier in the week, Mubarak had enraged Egyptian protesters by grudgingly announcing that he would not run for re-election in September. After days in the streets, and sometimes bloody clashes with pro-Mubarak agitators, protesters were hoping for an immediate and complete change of regime in Egypt. Cannon's statement Thursday defined a significantly more cautious position as compared to that of the United States, and other Western countries.

Pundits suspected that Canada's current position is intended to emphasize Middle East stability, and peace with Israel, over rapid democratic reform. Cannon defended his position by asserting, "I think the question is what's next. A vacuum does not mean transition. The transition must be orderly." Last week, Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper reported that Israeli ambassadors had been asked to encourage countries to reduce criticism of Mubarak, presumably in an effort to prolong "stability" from Israel's perspective.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

In Venezuela, an American Has the President’s Ear

By Simon Romero
The New York Times
original: here

SLIP into Librerías del Sur, a chain of state bookstores. Read a state newspaper. Turn on state television. Listen to state radio. Eva Golinger, a New Yorker who speaks Spanish with a thick American accent, seems to be expounding everywhere these days on the threats to this country’s so-called “Bolivarian revolution.”

Welcomed into President Hugo Chávez’s fold to such an extent that she accompanied him on a recent trip to Iran, Libya and Syria, Ms. Golinger, a lawyer who first came to Venezuela in the 1990s to research her family’s history, has created a unique niche for herself here: an American with the president’s ear.

Getting Rid of May Day in the UK

Minister says swap would extend tourist season but unions see Tory plot to get rid of workers' day

 Polly Curtis
 Friday 4 February 2011

May Day supporter in Baghdad
The Romans called it Floralia and the Celts named it Beltane, but since medieval times it's been known as May Day, a celebration of the coming of summer complete with maypoles and morris dancing.

In 1978 it took a political twist when the then prime minister, James Callaghan, created a bank holiday to coincide with International Workers' Day and reward the workers for their long winter of toil. Now, in a highly symbolic and controversial move, the coalition government wants to cancel the May Day bank holiday and replace it with a UK Day in October.

Ministers are drawing up plans, to be announced this month, to thin out the cluster of bank holidays between Easter and Whitsun, and create a national day off work in the autumn to celebrate the "best of British". They are considering calling it UK Day, to create a nationalistic celebration akin to St Andrew's Day in Scotland.

Friday, February 4, 2011

SGEU launches campaign to support SIAST staff

Television and newspaper ads challenge SIAST management and the provincial government to negotiate a fair and reasonable contract.


Regina (4 Feb. 2011) - The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE) is launching a public campaign to support instructors and professional service staff at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST).

The employees are trying to negotiate a new and fair collective agreement.

SGEU has begun a province-wide information campaign of newspaper and television advertising to support the employees.

The ads challenge SIAST management and the province to give fair value to the importance of the work done by the employees.

The newspaper ads ran this week in four major provincial newspapers - the Regina Leader Post, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, the Prince Albert Daily Herald and the Moose Jaw Times Herald.

The print ads point out that it will become increasingly difficult to recruit skilled staff at SIAST without a fair settlement.

"Educators and professional services staff fall even further behind others who work in the same industries," the ad notes. "Without a fair offer, SIAST will not be able to hire and retain the skilled staff we need to prepare our kids for the new labour market."

The employees are asking for a fair and reasonable offer from management. SIAST is offering 5.5% over three years, substantially less than increases received by employees in other credit-granting, post-secondary institutions.

Game over Mubarak

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Samir Amin on Tunisian Revolution

Interview with Aydinlik Magazine
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Samir Amin
Professor Samir Amin, respected political thinker, economist and writer, evaluates developments in Tunisia in an interview with Aydinlik Magazine. We also asked Samir Amin his views about Hu Jintao’s visit to USA and currency policy of the China. We present a broad summary of the interview with Amin, who answered our questions from Dakar by telephone.

AYDINLIK: How do you interpret the movement in Tunisia?

SAMIR AMIN: The events of Tunisia must be interpreted as a very powerful popular movement uprising, a general uprising. About 80 per cent of the population of the country in many areas including in the capital were out in the streets for 45 days and continue to do so. They carried on their protests in spite of the repression and did not give up. This movement has political, societal and economic dimensions. Ben Ali regime was one of the most repressive police regimes in the world. Thousands of people in Tunisia were assassinated, arrested and tortured, but Western powers best friend never allowed these facts to be known. The Tunisian people want democracy, respect of rights.

The Tax That Turned Reagan From a Labor-Loving FDR Dem to the Father of Backlash Conservatism

In the middle decades of the 20th century, the steeply graduated progressive income tax meant that the super-rich saw their share of the America's income drop precipitously.

Sam Pizzigati
February 1, 2011

Did Ronald Reagan change history? Well, we all change history in our own way. The more interesting question: What changed Ronald Reagan?

What changed the labor advocate -- with enough street cred to get elected president of Hollywood’s actors union -- into a labor basher extraordinaire? What turned Reagan the standard-issue New Deal Democrat into the 20th century’s premiere pusher for almost entirely unrestrained “free enterprise”?

The answer? According to Reagan himself, the federal income tax -- specifically the over 90 percent top rate on top-bracket income that went into effect during World War II -- changed Ronald Reagan. That tax levy absolutely incensed the amiable actor.

Saskatchewan Crown workers establish common front

February 1, 2011

Garry Hamblin, COPE
REGINA — Unions representing more than 9,000 employees at the province's major Crown corporations are banding together to express frustration with what they're hearing during bargaining.

The unions, whose members include workers at SaskTel, SaskPower, SaskEnergy and SGI, have formed a coalition dubbed the "Common Front."

Group spokesman Garry Hamblin said the government seems intent on wage increases in the Crown sector of 1.5 per cent, two per cent and two per cent.

"It's been made obvious at our various tables that there's a mandate, a one-size-fits-all mandate," said Hamblin, who is president of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees' Union (COPE) local 397 which represents some SGI employees.

Arctic security: Fighting for the True North
01 Feb. 2011

Michael Byers
Professor Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at UBC. He is a project leader with ArcticNet, a federally funded consortium of scientists from 27 Canadian universities and eight federal departments.

Jill Mahoney interviewed him with some very interesting questions; nonetheless, the most salient ones emerged from the polls concerning the Arctic security and the findings on Canadians views.

Michael Byers: Asking people whether they support Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic is like asking if they’re happy when Canadian athletes win gold medals. It’s the ranking priority questions that provide the real insights into what Canadians think, for they ask people to choose between different priorities. We soon discover that some priorities are, well, less of a priority than others.