Monday, January 31, 2011


Riveting debut film on controlling the public mind

By Kim Petersen
Dissident Voice
January 31st, 2011

Psywar is a sterling debut documentary from writer-director Scott Noble. It is chock full of interviews with thinkers, historical background, and excellent narration by Mikela Jay.

Psywar explores the evolution of propaganda and public relations in the United States, with an emphasis on the “elitist theory of democracy” and the relationship between war, propaganda, and class.

This film is designed both as an introduction to the concept of psychological warfare by governments against their citizens and as an exploration of certain dominant themes in American propaganda. Significant time is also devoted to different conceptions of “democracy” as theorized by figures like Walter Lippmann, Edward Bernays, and the “founding fathers” of the United States itself.

Psywar illuminates how the state of the world reached the point it is at today: where an imperialist United States wages several wars abroad and maintains the support of its people, despite a growing and yawning chasm between the haves (who profit from warring) and the have-nots (cannon fodder deluded by unquestioning patriotic idealism). The US has managed to drag its fellow capitalist nations along in more-or-less support of its imperialist aggressions.

23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism

By Ha Joon Chang
Bloomsbury Press

Thing 1: There is no such thing as a free market. Thing 4: The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet. Thing 5: Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst. Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer.

If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what they didn't tell us about capitalism. This is a lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the dominant school of neoliberal economiststhe apostles of the freemarkethave spun since the Age of Reagan.

Chang, the author of the international bestseller Bad Samaritans, is one of the world's most respected economists, a voice of sanity and within the tradition of John Kenneth Galbraith and Joseph Stiglitz. 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism equips readers with an understanding of how global capitalism worksand doesn't. In his final chapter, "How to Rebuild the World," Chang offers a vision of how we can shape capitalism to humane ends, instead of becoming slaves of the market.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Deepening Canada-U.S. Security and Military Ties

By Dana Gabriel
Be Your Own Leader
Saturday, January 29, 2011

A recent North American defense ministers meeting was originally scheduled to be a trilateral gathering, but Mexico’s Secretary of Defense was unable to participate in the summit. Canada-U.S. talks focused on continental, hemispheric, as well as global defense issues.

The meeting went a long way to further deepen bilateral security and military ties. It was also significant considering that Canada and the U.S. are currently negotiating an agreement that would work towards establishing a perimeter approach to security

On January 27, Canadian Minister of National Defense Peter MacKay hosted a bilateral meeting with his American counterpart U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, which centered on security issues of common interest.

How Much Is Too Much?

By Benjamin Kunkel
London Review of Books

The deepest economic crisis in eighty years prompted a shallow revival of Marxism. During the panicky period between the failure of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 and the official end of the American recession in the summer of 2009, several mainstream journals, displaying a less than sincere mixture of broadmindedness and chagrin, hailed Marx as a neglected seer of capitalist crisis. The trendspotting Foreign Policy led the way, with a cover story on Marx for its Next Big Thing issue, enticing readers with a promise of star treatment: ‘Lights. Camera. Action. Das Kapital. Now.’

Though written by a socialist, Leo Panitch, the piece was typical of the general approach to Marx and Marxism. It bowed at a distance to the prophet of capitalism’s ever ‘more extensive and exhaustive crises’, and restated several basic articles of his thought: capitalism is inherently unstable; political activism is indispensable; and revolution offers the ultimate prize. This can’t have done much more than jog memories of the Communist Manifesto, the only one of Marx’s works cited by Panitch. The Manifesto remains an incandescent pamphlet, but the elements of a Marxian crisis theory, one never fully articulated by Marx himself, lie elsewhere, scattered throughout Theories of Surplus Value, the Grundrisse and above all the posthumous second and third volumes of Capital.

Read more HERE.

The Invisible Handcuffs of Capitalism

How Market Tyranny Stifles the Economy by Stunting Workers
By Michael Perelman

“Workers, working conditions, and work itself rarely draw the attention, let alone concern, of employers or economists. Michael Perelman fills the void with this sweeping review of Procrusteanism—the economic institutions and practices that force people to accept the discipline of the market. His account of the degradation of labor gives us a sequel to Harry Braverman’s Labor and Monopoly Capital.”

—Richard B. Du Boff
professor emeritus of economics, Bryn Mawr College

“When so much punditry around us is devoted to finding market-based solutions to our current woes, this book is a blast of fresh air, reminding us that the market is an increasingly destructive institution. Perelman shows how the market, instead of serving humanity, is now a Procrustean monster, demanding imperiously that humanity fit to its own constraints. The market gives power to the destructive practices of business and finance while stifling the creative potential of labor to address urgent social needs. Perelman subjects to withering criticism both the market and the economists who pray to this false god—a tonic read in these times of economic disarray!”

—Paul Adler
Chair in Business Policy
Department of Management & Organization
Marshall School of Business, USC

Mainstream, or more formally, neoclassical, economics claims to be a science. But as Michael Perelman makes clear in his latest book, nothing could be further from the truth. While a science must be rooted in material reality, mainstream economics ignores or distorts the most fundamental aspect of this reality: that the vast majority of people must, out of necessity, labor on behalf of others, transformed into nothing but a means to the end of maximum profits for their employers. The nature of the work we do and the conditions under which we do it profoundly shape our lives. And yet, both of these factors are peripheral to mainstream economics.

By sweeping labor under the rug, mainstream economists hide the nature of capitalism, making it appear to be a system based upon equal exchange rather than exploitation inside every workplace. Perelman describes this illusion as the “invisible handcuffs” of capitalism and traces its roots back to Adam Smith and his contemporaries and their disdain for working people. He argues that far from being a basically fair system of exchanges regulated by the “invisible hand” of the market, capitalism handcuffs working men and women (and children too) through the very labor process itself. Neoclassical economics attempts to rationalize these handcuffs and tells workers that they are responsible for their own conditions. What we need to do instead, Perelman suggests, is eliminate the handcuffs through collective actions and build a society that we direct ourselves.

Michael Perelman is professor of economics at California State University at Chico, and the author of numerous books, including Steal This Idea and Railroading Economics.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

PRTC report points fingers, doesn’t answer questions

Full investigation still needed to address real concerns over safety of CO2 injections

Jan 28, 2011

CALGARY — A Petroleum Technology Research Centre report released last week, which attempts to rule out the possibility of a CO2 leak near Weyburn, Sask., omits critical information and fails to provide concrete answers, Ecojustice said today after a thorough review of the document.

On January 19, the PTRC released a response decrying the soil-gas study Petro-Find GeoChem Ltd. conducted last summer for Cameron and Jane Kerr. The couple had concerns that CO2 injections near their property might be responsible for disturbances on their property, including bubbling and foaming water, unusual algae growths in ponds and animal carcasses found strewn around the ponds.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Saskatchewan’s Potash: Who Really Benefits?

Saskatchewan Office
January 27, 2011
Full Report HERE

Regina — The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Saskatchewan Office today released Exploiting Saskatchewan’s Potash: Who Benefits? by John W. Warnock. The new report considers the history of potash exploitation in the province with an eye to answering the question of whether the people of Saskatchewan are receiving the full benefit from the exploitation of this strategic natural resource.

With the recent controversy over the proposed BHP Billiton takeover bid of PotashCorp, the question of ownership of Saskatchewan’s vital natural resources are again front and centre. Warnock argues that to ensure that Saskatchewan receives the full benefit of its natural endowment, we must move to a more democratic form of resource ownership and management.

Some of the key questions and insights contained in this history of potash in Saskatchewan include:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Seven Foreign Oil Companies to Pull Out of Ecuador

By Gonzalo Ortiz
Jan 25 (IPS)

Seven of the 16 foreign oil companies operating in Ecuador have decided to pull out of the country in disagreement with a reformed oil law that turned the firms into providers of services to which the government will pay a fixed tariff for operating the fields.

“To the companies that do not accept the new conditions, we’ll say to them good-bye and good luck,” Correa has said since 2008, when international oil prices hit a record high.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saskatchewan Working Women

By Cara Banks
Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Working Women at a Saskatoon
City Council  meeting, January 1979.
Tammy Tampalski (Saskatchewan Archives Board)
The SWW was a grassroots, feminist organization of female wage earners which operated from 1978 to 1990. SWW was formed by an alliance of trade union women and community-based feminists. Members of SWW came from many different political backgrounds, including the Waffle, the New Democratic Party, various Communist, Trotskyist and Marxist-Leninist parties, the women’s movement on university campuses and women’s centres, and the trade union movement.

Once Upon a Waffle

By Mel Watkins
Canadian Dimension
November 12th 2009

Mel Watkins (left) and Cy Gonick at the
1969 NDP National Convention
The Waffle is long dead and little remembered. Forty years ago, at the very tail-end of the fabulous decade known as the 60s — if you missed it, too bad — it burst on the scene as a radical grouping within the NDP with a Manifesto calling for an independent socialist Canada, no less, and did so to media attention the likes of which the Left has yet to match.

The 60s were already in trouble, Richard Nixon having been elected president of the United States and leader of the free world in 1968. Here at home, by 1972 the NDP establishment, an alliance of party and trade union brass, was unwilling to tolerate the Waffle talk inside and outside the party.

The Battle of Chile

A Film by Patricio Guzmán

After a long time of being overpriced for individuals, Icarus has now made an affordable great item for The Battle of Chile - NYC.

Now available for the First Time on DVD!
A Special 4-Disc Edition (Available HERE)

"Great films rarely arrive as unheralded as The Battle of Chile." –Pauline Kael, The New Yorker

“Not only the best films about Allende and the coup d’etat, but among the best documentary films every made, changing our concepts of political documentary within a framework accessible to the widest audience.” —Time Out Film Guide

On September 11, 1973, President Salvador Allende’s democratically-elected Chilean government was overthrown in a bloody coup by General Augusto Pinochet's army.

Patricio Guzmán and five colleagues had been filming the political developments in Chile throughout the nine months leading up to that day. The bombing of the Presidential Palace, during which Allende died, would now become the ending for Guzmán’s seminal documentary THE BATTLE OF CHILE, an epic chronicle of that country's open and peaceful socialist revolution, and of the violent counter-revolution against it.

After its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and winning eight Grand Prize awards at other international festivals, when THE BATTLE OF CHILE came to the United States it was immediately hailed by critics as “Spellbinding”, “Overwhelming”, and as “An epic!”

The Village Voice called it “The major political film of our time,” and the San Francisco Chronicle “A landmark in the presentation of living history on film.”

Long banned in Chile after Pinochet’s coup, only in 1997 could Guzmán return to show THE BATTLE OF CHILE there for the first time. CHILE, OBSTINATE MEMORY (included on the fourth disc here) is the extraordinarily moving record of that homecoming, and a fitting conclusion to a “thrilling documentary double feature,”6 “the unusual opportunity to see one film artist sustain an inquiry into the life of a troubled country over the course of decades.”

Bonus! The 4 Disc Set includes a 16-page booklet including a new introduction to Patricio Guzmán's work by Cecilia Ricciarelli, and Pauline Kael's review of the film. Plus! a 22-minute interview with Patricio Guzmán conducted by Brazlian film critic José Carlos Avellar.

Venezuela's New Red Book

Red Book - Fundamental Documents

The following is from the introduction to the PSUV's Libro Rojo (i.e., 'Red Book'). It was issued last year and is available on the PSUV website (
Further translations will appear in Owen Richard's Translating the Revolution blog.

Translated by Owen Richards

The First Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) approves the Declaration of Principles, the Statutes [constitution] and the Programmatic Foundations of the Party, in the framework of the bicentennial era.

The First Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), completes this important phase with the approval of the documents that formally give birth to the socialist party: the Declaration of Principles, the Statutes and the Programmatic Foundations of the Party.

This historic event takes place in the context of the development of a revolutionary process whose protagonist is the people, with Comandante President Hugo Chavez at its head, and that has as its aim of providing continuity to the emancipatory heritage initiated 200 years ago by our Liberators. Today as yesterday, all socialist militants, all Venezuelans who love this homeland, have the obligation to fight for liberty, for sovereignty, for independence and social justice for the wellbeing of our peoples.

Reclaiming a Vision of Hope and a Life of Dignity

Neoliberal South Africa and the Narrowing of Democratic Space
By Vishwas Satgar
Member of CDL National Convening Committee
Presented to the 1st National Conference of the Democratic Left


After this historical conference, South Africa will not be the same. Over the next few days we will be broadening the horizons of our 17 year old democracy. We will be adding a new term to the South African political lexicon: Democratic Left.

I want to talk about this new category but by trying to place into perspective where we are as a country and the world. I am hoping through this contribution South Africa and the world would be much clearer about what the Democratic Left stands for.

I want to start with a sharp and provocative question: How Did Afro-Neoliberalism steal the South African Dream?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Quebec Right Attacks MNA Amir Khadir

By Ted Sprague
January 21, 2011

Amir Khadir, Quebec Solidaire MNA
Just a week after being proclaimed the most popular politician in Quebec, Amir Khadir, the only MNA from Quebec solidaire, was out in public again to support a controversial issue knowing it would prompt rabid attacks from his opponents.

Khadir took to the street on Dec. 18 to picket a Montreal shoe store that sells Israeli-made products, as a part of a consumer boycott campaign initiated by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction group, a Palestinian solidarity organization. While the effectiveness of this tactic for the Palestinian cause is debatable, one ought to commend Amir's courage to stand up for his principle without fearing what it will do to his popularity.

SIAST employees lay foundation for a strong Saskatchewan

SGEU is launching a public campaign to support SIAST instructors and professional services staff as they strive for a fair collective agreement.

The Tidal Wave of Nonsense on Demography

By Dean Baker

The debate over the demographic trends in the United States and other wealthy countries can be described a debate between those who care about our children and those who want more of them. This is apparent once a little bit of logic is applied to the tales of demographic disaster being hawked by those concerned about declining birth rates and greater longevity.

The basic story is that we are seeing a declining ratio of workers to retirees. This is supposed to mean that our children and our grandchildren will have an unbearable burden supporting us in our old age. In the United States the story is that we now have about three workers for each retiree. In 20 years this ratio is supposed to drop to two.

The Weaver Issue #1

Publication of the Saskatoon Parkands Eco-left Collective
Website HERE.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

On Intellectual Masturbation

Do academic journals matter any more?

By Marc Lee
The Progessive Economics Forum
January 20th, 2011

Intellectual Masturbation by Caroline Caux-Evans
I do a lot of reading and writing as part of my job. But though I work for a research policy institute, I find I have little need for academic journals, and if anything, academic journals have made themselves less and less relevant over time.

It used to be the case that academic journals represented essential sources of literature if one wanted to get a handle on any particular topic. In the days of the Internet, that comparative advantage has dissipated. This may be because many academic journals only participate on-line through a payment wall. I do sometimes come across an article I want, only to have the journal seek a preposterous fee for accessing it. This seems odd as the whole point of academic papers is supposed to be advancing the state of knowledge and getting your own ideas as widespread as possible.

The Left in Europe: What Does the Future Hold?

By Pierre Moscovici
French Socialist MP
Social Europe

I am glad and honoured to talk today about the Left in Europe, and what is left of it. I would like to thank the French Socialist party in London, the Fabian Society and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung for organizing this event. Before answering questions you may have about the current French political landscape, I would like to outline the perspectives and situations of Europe’s mainstream and Reformist Left parties, although I will at times discuss other forces of the Left, such as the communists and the ecologists (or greens).

This overview starts with a preliminary observation. There is clearly a paradox of European socialism. In the economic turmoil the world is currently undergoing, all the components for an ideological, and also a political domination of the Left are in place.

After the conservative wave of the 1980s epitomized by ‘Reagonomics’ and Thatcherism, after the unlimited ‘financialization’ of the last decade (in which the free market increasingly dominated international economics and national policies), after the winning period of the Blairite ‘Third Way’ in Britain, and even after Lionel Jospin’s reformism in France (to which I contributed as a Minister for European Affairs), new political realities and needs are emerging. A return to Keynesianism is needed but with new perspectives. According to many analysts, the time has come for a widespread rejection of the absolute rule of the market, for financial regulation and for a return of state interventionism. In other words, the time has come for the renewed momentum of the Social Democrats.

Read more HERE.

New Trade Agreement with EU Could Crush Canadian Farmers - NFU

National Farmers Union
January 18, 2011

Saskatoon, Sask. ─ National Farmers Union (NFU) President Terry Boehm has joined the coalition of organizations called the Trade Justice Network in protesting the latest round of Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations taking place in Brussels this week.

 "I will be making our concerns heard to politicians in Brussels as well as working with other organizations opposed to the deal from Canada and Europe," stated Boehm. "This deal has been flying under the radar of most people mainly due to the semi-secret nature of the negotiations, but now people have come to understand the scope of the deal and its negative implications,” continued Boehm.

The NFU has been sounding the alarm bell about this deal since it received a leaked draft text of the agreement in the spring of 2010. It has since obtained a copy of the text from the last round of negotiations in October.

New book reimagines Indigenous networks

"If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." (Gangulu Elder, Lila Watson)

By Zainab Amadahy

Lynne Davis's anthology, Alliances: Re/Envisioning Indigenous-non-Indigenous Relationships, brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists, scholars and community leaders to reflect on relationship-building/alliance-making in struggle and how such work impacts both the personal and political.

Starting with theoretical frameworks explaining how Indigenous peoples look at relationship-making and relationship-maintenance we have contributions from Elders and leaders who have forged their understandings out of the fusion of both lived experience and oral teachings.

From Nazi Criminal to Postwar Spy

German Intelligence Hired Klaus Barbie as Agent

By Georg Bönisch and Klaus Wiegrefe
Speigel Online

Barbie leaves the court in Lyon after being
sentenced to life imprisonment in July 1987.
 He would later die in prison in France.
Klaus Barbie was a notorious Nazi war criminal known as the "Butcher of Lyon" because of his horrific deeds in occupied France. Now new research has revealed that he also worked as a spy for Germany's BND intelligence agency while in hiding in Bolivia after the war. The agency almost certainly knew about his dark past.

The man who Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), listed in its files as Wilhelm Holm belonged to a unique species in the shadowy world of intelligence. The overweight German businessman with the carefully combed dark hair was a so-called "tipper."

Whenever Holm noticed someone during his travels around the world who seemed to have the makings of an agent, he would send a message to BND headquarters in Pullach near Munich. In 1965, for example, after he had spent four weeks in the Bolivian capital La Paz, he raved about a fellow German who had two important virtues: He was apparently a staunch German patriot and a "committed anticommunist" -- something that was practically a badge of honor during the Cold War era.

Barbie, 1944
A few weeks later, the BND hired the new man as an agent. He was given the code name "Adler" (eagle) and the registration number V-43118. "Adler" lived in La Paz under the name Klaus Altmann.

But Altmann wasn't his real name. In reality, he was one of the vilest criminals of the Nazi dictatorship: Klaus Barbie, the notorious "Butcher of Lyon." After the war, French courts sentenced Barbie, the former head of the Gestapo in Lyon, to death in absentia. There are many indications that the BND was aware of all of this when it decided to hire him.

Read more HERE.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Woman's Place Is At Her Typewriter

The Feminization of the Clerical Work Force

By Margery Davies
Radical America
July/August 1974

The benefits of being under surveillance

Will Chabun
Regina Leader-Post

"It was in the early 1980s that I interviewed Bill Beeching, former leader of the Communist Party of Canada's Saskatchewan section, who confirmed a rumour I'd heard: when he was driving from Regina to Saskatoon in about 1970 for a May Day rally, he lost control of his car and rolled it on Highway 11 near Davidson. It was dark and very cold that night; the Mountie who was tailing him rendered immediate first aid and called for an ambulance. Had he not been under surveillance, Bill admitted, he might have died in that ditch."

Revisiting “Letter to the New Left”

By Chris Maisano
The Activist

C. Wright Mills
C. Wright Mills died in 1962 at age 45, from the last of a string of heart attacks. The author of such enduring classics as The Power Elite, White Collar, The New Men of Power, and The Sociological Imagination, he was one of the world’s foremost social scientists as well as the leading intellectual influence on the emerging New Left until his tragically early death.

As an academic, Mills was committed to the rigors of scholarly inquiry, but this did not mean that he thought that intellectual work should be value-free. Far from it. In a 1959 address at the London School of Economics that harshly criticized contemporary U.S. society, he provided his audience with an intellectual disclaimer that succinctly characterizes the spirit of his work: “You may well say that all this is an immoderate and biased view of America, that this nation contains many good features…Indeed that is so. But you must not expect me to provide A Balanced View. I am not a sociological bookkeeper.”

What, Me Care? Young Are Less Empathetic

A recent study finds a decline in empathy among young people in the U.S.

By Jamil Zaki
Scientific American
January 19, 2011

Humans are unlikely to win the animal kingdom’s prize for fastest, strongest or largest, but we are world champions at understanding one another. This interpersonal prowess is fueled, at least in part, by empathy: our tendency to care about and share other people’s emotional experiences.

Empathy is a cornerstone of human behavior and has long been considered innate. A forthcoming study, however, challenges this assumption by demonstrating that empathy levels have been declining over the past 30 years.

The research, led by Sara H. Konrath of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and published online in August in Personality and Social Psychology Review, found that college students’ self-reported empathy has declined since 1980, with an especially steep drop in the past 10 years. To make matters worse, during this same period students’ self-reported narcissism has reached new heights, according to research by Jean M. Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University.

Public sector workers are a ‘privileged new class,’ says billionaire

John Bellamy Foster
January 17, 2011

In the ideological assault being directed today at public sector workers no one has outdone Mortimer Zuckerman — billionaire real estate and publishing mogul, owner of the New York Daily News and chairman and editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report — who declared in September that public sector workers are a “privileged new class” dominating U.S. society.

Populists, Zuckerman (the 182nd wealthiest American in 2010) pronounced, have long gotten away with their insidious “class warfare speeches” emphasizing “the gulf between the rich and the poor.” The aim has been to divert attention from society’s real ruling class: public sector workers. Forget the corporate rich, forget Wall Street, forget the bank bailouts, corporate bonuses and high-income tax breaks, forget the private jets and mansions. It is the millions of “public servants” with their outrageous five-digit salaries and their galling health insurance and retirement pensions, Zuckerman insisted, who have now become “the public’s masters,” seizing a disproportionate share of society’s rewards and bringing on the failures of the U.S. economy.

More Fizz to Saskatchewan Carbon Storage Controversy

Group overseeing project says it will refute study saying CO2 is bubbling back to surface.

By Andrew Nikiforuk

Disputed CO2 capture project in Weyburn, SK.
A report that documented lethal levels of carbon dioxide in a farmer's field on top of a national $80-million demonstration carbon storage project in Saskatchewan has generated a storm of controversy, denials and calls for a more studies.

The Petroleum Research Technology Centre, a Regina-based industry and government research group overseeing the international project, says it will issue a technical report today, refuting the independent study. (When released, the report will be here.)

"We don't agree with the findings," says Steve Whittaker, the senior project manager for the IEA Weyburn-Midale Carbon Capture and Storage Project. "There are some significant deficiencies. It's a chicken little report."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Death of the Israeli Left


Ehud Barak, Israel's defence minister, appears to have driven the final nail in the coffin of the Zionist left with his decision to split from the Labor party and create a new "centrist, Zionist" faction in the Israeli parliament. So far four MPs, out of a total of 12, have announced they are following him.

Moments after Barak's press conference on Monday, the Israeli media suggested that the true architect of the Labor party's split was the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who, according to one of his aides, had planned it like "an elite general staff [military] operation".

Invest in public hospitals, help poor — Saskatchewan polls

57 percent oppose investing public funds in private clinics.

Public Values
Saskatoon, SK (January 6, 2011)

A Viewpoints Research poll commissioned by Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Saskatchewan reveals that 60.4 percent of the province's residents want the government to reduce surgical wait times by investing in the public hospital system. Most of the poll's respondents were "critical of the government's decision to postpone construction of a new outpatient surgical clinic in Regina," says CUPE. The hospital was supposed to be completed in 2010, but the government opted to spend $5.5 million on private surgical clinics instead.

The poll shows that 56.8 percent of Saskatchewan's residents oppose investing public funds in private clinics.

"Public support for giving low-income people a break is strong."

Norman Bethune

National Film Board of Canada

Virtually unknown in his homeland during his lifetime, Bethune received international recognition when Chairman Mao Zedong of the People's Republic of China published his essay entitled In Memory of Norman Bethune (in Chinese: 紀念白求恩), which documented the final months of the doctor's life in China. Almost the entire Chinese population knew about the essay which had become required reading in China's elementary schools during China's Cultural Revolution (1966–76).

Mao concluded in that essay: "We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from him. With this spirit everyone can be very helpful to each other. A person's ability may be great or small, but if he/she has this spirit, he/she is already noble-minded and pure, a person of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, a person who is of value to the people."

CEP 481 Organized First Protest Againt New Wall Government, Dec. 2007

NYC (Alias Rex Hammer)

Jim Brady: Metis Socialist

Jim Brady (1908-1967)

By Leah Dorion
Eagle Feather News
July/August 1999

James Brady
Photo: Glenbow Museum
After 1885 many Saskatchewan Metis people dispersed into parts of Alberta. Mission settlements such as Lac St. Anne and St. Albert attracted many Metis families as a place to rebuild their lives. This created a significant increase in Alberta's Metis population.

Many Metis arriving in northern Alberta struggled to find a land base to call home. The Metis of the NWT were becoming minorities in the NWT after 1885. This led to further alienation of many Metis from the emerging political, social and economic system. During this period of future uncertainty for many Metis people, strong leaders were born.

Jim Brady was born in 1908 at Lake St. Vincent near St. Paul des Metis, Alberta. His father, Jim Brady Sr. was a dominion land agent, postmaster and wealthy store-keeper of Scottish ancestry. His Metis mother, Philomena Archange was one of the first Metis registered nurses in the area. Brady grew up in St. Paul des Metis which was the largest Metis community in Alberta. He was partially raised by his maternal grandfather, Lawrence Garneau, who was involved with Louis Riel and the Metis in the resistances of 1870 and 1885.

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Assassination’s Long Shadow

San Francisco
New York Times

TODAY, millions of people on another continent are observing the 50th anniversary of an event few Americans remember, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. A slight, goateed man with black, half-framed glasses, the 35-year-old Lumumba was the first democratically chosen leader of the vast country, nearly as large as the United States east of the Mississippi, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This treasure house of natural resources had been a colony of Belgium, which for decades had made no plans for independence. But after clashes with Congolese nationalists, the Belgians hastily arranged the first national election in 1960, and in June of that year King Baudouin arrived to formally give the territory its freedom.

Keeping Farmers on the Land with Wind Energy

Kate Mason's Video Collection

Climate deniers hate wind power. The giant turbines have become welcome additions to the landscape in rural areas around the country, and the world, and they provide irrefutable evidence that renewable energy is here, it’s real, and it works. Wind has been a leading source of new electrical capacity in the US for several years now.

What’s important for rural communities is the additional income wind brings to areas that are dependent on fickle economics of farming. Chad Martin, a renewable energy specialist with Purdue University Extension, calls wind a “once in a generation” opportunity for farmers.

“The base lease payment per turbine has definitely increased,” Martin maintains, “For national average figures, we’re talking $3,000 to $5,000 per year per megawatt of production. And some people are getting up into the $10,000 range per year per turbine.”

That’s revenue that will help communities keep services, while keeping taxes down, and allow farmers to keep their land in the family.

What is the Radical Imagination?

Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action

SciFi And The Disguised Left Of The Cold War Days

By Paul Buhle
January 17, 2011

Book Review: It Walks in Beauty: Selected Prose of Chandler Harris. Edited and with an introduction by Josh Lukin. Seattle: Aqueduct Press, 2010. 358pp, $19.95 pbk.

Chandler Harris, octogenarian, HUAC and campus red scare victim, civil libertarian radical and scientist, was also a promising science fiction writer of the 1940s-50s, before he gave it up for other pursuits. The recovery of some of his best fiction recalls a world of left-wing SciFi now long forgotten, but never irrelevant for the gloomy reality of our present.

A little history here. Socialist champion Jack London, Populist champion Ignatius Donnelly, and a forgotten pulp star writer George Allen England all made themselves famous and a little prosperous with predictions of world war and associated disasters that happened, though not with sweeping results for Americans, after 1914.

Independent group to review alleged leak of captured CO2 at Saskatchewan farm

By: Jennifer Graham
The Canadian Press

REGINA - An independent group will investigate claims from a Saskatchewan couple that gas from a carbon capture operation is leaking out at their farm.

The International Performance Assessment Centre for Geologic Storage of Carbon Dioxide is putting together a team to look at what's happening in the Weyburn carbon capture and storage project. That's where energy giant Cenovus (TSX:CVE) injects CO2 into the ground to enhance oil recovery and fight climate change.

Transforming Saskatchewan's Electrical Future

Green Energy Project, Saskatchewan


The Green Energy Project Saskatchewan's goal is to create a comprehensive, technically sound plan to transform Saskatchewan's electricity grid to run on renewable energy sources in a way that will also be economically and socially beneficial for our rural, urban and First Nations communities.

Climate change and peak oil are the defining challenges of the 21st Century. Saskatchewan, with its sunny weather, abundant wind resource, and existing hydro-electric capacity, is well-placed to meet these challenges -- yet we currently have the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita (70 tonnes/person/year) of all Canadian provinces! We can do so much better.


• research renewable electricity technology options for Saskatchewan
• involve rural and First Nations communities in discussion around local energy production
• pencil out the economics of going fossil-fuel free
• produce a series of short reports for discussion purposes

Visit their website HERE.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just Entertainment? - Story Telling in Our Society

Next Year Country
Journal #1, 1979

While the references in this selection of NYC articles by Bob Cosbey may be dated, the analysis is not.

Agriculture and Food in Crisis

Monthly Review Press
Buy book HERE

“The Monsantos get richer as the poor get hungrier while farmers get replaced by machines, genetic engineering, chemicals, and corporations. The logic of industrial monocropping and its destruction of our lives and Mother Nature will only be reversed by revolutionary change based on renewing agrarian values and gaining the type of information found in this book.” —George Naylor, past president of the National Family Farm Coalition

The failures of “free-market” capitalism are perhaps nowhere more evident than in the production and distribution of food. Although modern human societies have attained unprecedented levels of wealth, a significant amount of the world’s population continues to suffer from hunger or food insecurity on a daily basis.

In Agriculture and Food in Crisis, Fred Magdoff and Brian Tokar have assembled an exceptional collection of scholars from around the world to explore this frightening long-term trend in food production. While approaching the issue from many angles, the contributors to this volume share a focus on investigating how agricultural production is shaped by a system that is oriented around the creation of profit above all else, with food as nothing but an afterthought.

Panhandling proposal 'poor bashing'

Ban won't address root causes of poverty, advocacy group says

By David Hutton
The StarPhoenix
January 12, 2011

Banning panhandling in large parts of Saskatoon would only "sweep the problem under the carpet," says a member of a local anti-poverty group.

"You can't be the pied piper and pipe all these people off to another area of town," said Vanessa Charles, past-chair of the Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition, which was involved in the recent review of the panhandling bylaw.

"It's not right. It's poor-bashing. Unfortunately, panhandling is a fact of life for some people.

The Balkanization of Sudan

The Redrawing of the Middle East and North Africa

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research
January 16, 2011

Sudan is a diverse nation and a country that represents the plurality of Africa through various tribes, clans, ethnicities, and religious groups. Yet the unity of Sudan is in question, while there is talk of unifying nations and of one day creating a United States of Africa through the African Union.

The limelight is on the January 2011 referendum in South Sudan. The Obama Administration has formally announced that it supports the separation of South Sudan from the rest of Sudan.

The balkanization of Sudan is what is really at stake. For years the leaders and officials of South Sudan have been supported by America and the European Union.

Read more HERE.

Mining Watch in Saskatchewan

Delegation Hasn't Addressed Quebeckers' Concerns About Uranium

Mining Watch Canada
Jan 14 2011

(Saskatoon) For the last three days MiningWatch Canada’s Canada Program Coordinator Ramsey Hart has been participating in a delegation examining the uranium mining industry in Saskatchewan. The group of thirty made stops in Regina, Saskatoon, at the Rabbit Lake Mine and at a mill in northern Saskatchewan.

The Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife organized the delegation. Delegates included Minister Serge Simard, ministry staff, regional and Quebec health representatives, and elected officials and staff from the North Shore and James Bay regions. The Coalition Québec Meilleure Mine (Better Mining Coalition) invited Mr. Hart to participate in the delegation as their delegate.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Fall of Ben Ali

Guest post by Kevin Ovenden
New Left Project

Ben Ali
Over the last quarter of a century the regime in Tunis has narrowed its social base. It swung behind US hegemony in the region. Its main policy internally became police repression rather than any kind of accommodation or integration of the constitutional Islamists, the union and the left. Wealth became concentrated in the hands of fewer families at top, including the extended family of Leila Trabelsi, the ex-president’s wife. The story of Ben Ali and Trabelsi’s rise is fascinating and tells you everything about the amoral, corrupt cliques that have so much power across the region.

He was a motorcycle cop who climbed through the bloody ranks to become head of security. He was a filthy piece of work - the Lavrenti Beria of Tunisia. He had a penchant for using his position to take whatever woman he wanted, though inducements or directly through rape - think of Claude Raines’s character in Casablanca without the charm, bons mots or pangs of conscience in the final reel.

A friend of mine, the wife of a senior Palestinian official of the time, recalls her stay in Tunis.

Towards a United Democratic Left Front For South Africa

United Democratic Left
Saturday, 15 January 2011


This document presents a perspective and argument for organising the Democratic Left initiative as an anti-capitalist political front. It is anchored in the premise of maximising the unity of social and ideological forces against post-apartheid and global capitalism.

To stimulate debate, discussion and resolution on the political form question for the Democratic Left initiative this document covers the following themes:

  • A strategic approach to fronts;
  • Learning lessons from the history of political fronts;
  • The case for a United Democratic Left Front for South Africa;
  • Key issues for a Democratic Left approach to building a political front through struggle;
The content of this document has been developed in different workshops and discussions within the Conference of the Democratic Left process.

What Are Political Fronts?

Political fronts can be understood as a tactical political form intended to bring together political parties in an electoral coalition or it can be utilised to unify a bloc of social forces around a set of common issues. These are narrow and limited understandings of political fronts which either reduces front politics to electoralism or issue based opposition. Our approach to political fronts recognises it as a strategic political form unifying social forces (national popular and class forces) in the context of offensive and defensive struggles to shift power to a new anti-capitalist historical bloc of forces.

Read more HERE.

Rosies of the North

National Film Board of Canada

Geraldine Hoff Doyle of Lansing, Mich., the woman behind an iconic image of a bandana-clad, muscle-flexing Rosie the Riveter during World War II died last month. Doyle was 86 upon her death, a lifetime older than the 17-year-old factory worker who was captured in a United Press International photo in a metal-pressing plant near Ann Arbor.

Her photo was later used by the U.S. War Production Coordinating Committee in an illustrated poster called, “We Can Do It!”. The poster was designed to encourage other women to enter the workforce in support of the war effort but has grown to become a pop-culture icon of women’s equality.

This NFB documentary reveals some Rosies of the North in Canada - NYC

They raised children, baked cakes... and built world-class fighter planes. Sixty years ago, thousands of women from Thunder Bay and the Prairies donned trousers, packed lunch pails and took up rivet guns to participate in the greatest industrial war effort in Canadian history. Like many other factories across the country from 1939 to 1945, the shop floor at Fort William's Canadian Car and Foundry was transformed from an all-male workforce to one with forty percent female workers.

Weyburn complaints hurt CCS

Edmonton Journal
January 15, 2011

Soil gas sampling for CO2 at Weyburn
Complaints this week from a Saskatchewan farm family about carbon dioxide escaping from a carbon-capture project near Weyburn should raise red flags with the Stelmach government. The provincial Tories plan to invest $2 billion into this still unproven technology to meet greenhouse gas emission guidelines.

On the face of it, capturing carbon dioxide emissions and storing them underground or using them to enhance oil recovery in aging oilfields seems like a great way to address global warming issues, but the Weyburn pilot operation has been the example politicians liked to point to when questioned about the viability of the plan. How much appetite will the public have for such grandiose ideas if the vanguard project suggests they may only create more problems?

Revolution in Tunisia: Can it deepen and widen?

Luna 17
New Left Project
January 14, 2011

The future of Tunisia hangs in the balance. There could be bloody retribution by the corrupt old regime, despite it being beheaded (with the hurried exit of ex-president Ben Ali). Or the democratic advance could become permanent, with new freedoms and a more liberal government.

But the radicalism, militancy and social weight of the popular movement raise the spectre of a third possibility: social and economic revolution, not just the 'democratic revolution' we are clearly now witnessing. Whether that becomes an actuality depends principally on the combativity, strength and political independence of Tunisian workers.