People’s Voice May 1-15, 2017
Volume 25 – Number 08   $1




3) DOWN TO THE WIRE IN B.C. - Editorial










13) MUSIC NOTES, by Wally Brooker




PEOPLE'S VOICE      May 1-15, 2017 (pdf)


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(The following articles are from the May 1-15, 2017, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)



May Day 2017 Greetings from the Communist Party of Canada

            We celebrate May Day 2017 in the shadow of the Trump war machine which has moved the whole planet into extreme danger of extinction due to nuclear war and/or climate change.  According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, it took just 100 days in office for the Trump administration to move the Doomsday Clock to 2 and a half minutes to midnight.  The world hasn’t been this close to Doomsday since 1953, at the height of the Cold War when the US openly campaigned for war with the USSR.  Is this the end of history that capitalism’s triumphant spokesman Fukuyama proclaimed in the 1990s?

            For the last 25 years, capitalism has had the upper hand, and the ability to demonstrate its self-proclaimed ‘superiority’. Its enormous wealth and capacity could have been put to the service of the world’s exploited and impoverished billions with health care, education, jobs, development, peace and disarmament, and action to reduce the effects of climate change. In fact this is socialist Cuba’s contribution over the past 25 years, despite the US embargo.

            But capitalism did what capitalism always does – seek out new places and new ways to exploit and to profit from the misery of the many, for the benefit of the richest corporations and the wealthiest few. This is the nature and the purpose of capitalism:  the exploitation of one human being and one class by another, for the private profit and benefit of the ruling class at the expense of the working people, the youth, women, immigrants, Indigenous Peoples. It is incapable of addressing the needs of the people, or the needs of the planet, because its purpose is to ruthlessly exploit both.

            As a result austerity has been introduced across the capitalist world, and wages, pensions and living standards have fallen in all the advanced capitalist countries, including in Europe and North America, while unemployment – and the growth of the ultra-right and its policies of xenophobia, racism, and misogyny - has surged.  In the developing countries, hunger, debt, dependence, and capitalist globalization, and threats of invasion and ‘regime change’ are the reality of capitalism’s self-proclaimed ‘superiority’ over national sovereignty, independence and socialism.

            We see the outcome of this dictatorship of the most powerful corporations in the US today: the ultra-right in control of the White House, the Congress and Senate, and the judiciary.  With an agenda to match: corporate tax cuts, deregulation, free-trade benefiting the most powerful US corporations, militarization funded by massive cuts to social security, and war with the two-pronged objective of leveling all resistance to US corporate power and profits inside and outside the US borders.  This means war on the labour and peoples' movements at home, war and subjugation on nations and states around the world, and war on the planet itself.

            This is an agenda of global destruction that the Canadian government should strongly oppose. 

            But the Liberals have tiptoed around the Trump administration, supporting illegal US airstrikes on Syria and Afghanistan, threats to invade and overthrow the DPRK (North Korea), and any country that resists the US global corporate agenda. The Liberals have promised to double Canada’s military budget in order to pay NATO 2% of GDP as demanded by Trump, or in lieu of payment, to send Canadian troops wherever Trump decides to make war next. 

            And, instead of pulling out of NAFTA and exposing the US administration’s reactionary and job-destroying agenda on trade, the Liberals are supporting a renegotiation of NAFTA that will wreak havoc on Canadian jobs, manufacturing and agriculture, on resource development, on universal public Medicare, on labour and democratic rights, on sovereignty and independence.  This is the moment when Trudeau should have said NO.


            Canada is at a crossroads. In one direction, the Liberals’ team-up with the Trump administration will escalate Canada’s complete integration into the US war economy and politics.  This would mean Canada would lose its manufacturing and industrial sector and revert to a source of natural resources and a market for US value-added goods and services.  We will see a further drop in wages, pensions and living standards, where even minimum wages are not guaranteed.  We will also lose Medicare and universal social programs, our labour, civil, social and democratic rights, along with what remains of our sovereignty and independence.  In return, we become a completely integrated part of the US war machine, spending $40 billion a year on war (and rising).

            For corporate Canada and their political parties this may seem like a good way to go. For working people it’s a fast-forward freeway to disaster. 

            It’s deeply regrettable that the NDP and Greens both support US airstrikes on Syria and renegotiation of NAFTA, while also claiming  to represent the interests of working people.

            It’s also disturbing that the outgoing CLC leadership has taken the same position, when NAFTA was widely panned and opposed as the corporate agenda on steroids.

            In 1988, just a few months of campaigning by a broad-based coalition of labour and the democratic people’s movements nearly derailed the first free trade deal between Canada and the US.  This powerful movement against capitalist globalization succeeded in derailing both the MAI and the FTAA, and came close to blocking NAFTA.

            Similarly, massive anti-war and anti-globalization protests took place around the globe during the same period, mobilizing public opinion against nuclear weapons, and for political solutions to global problems.

            The Women’s March of 5 million women globally including 200,000 women in Canada, along with the struggles of Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and mobilizations for climate justice, show the way forward today.  

            The struggle of the youth and minimum wage workers to win $15 and Fairness, and the response of the labour movement in Quebec to make $15 a universal bargaining demand, is the way forward.  The response of some unions in BC and Ontario to make $15 a basic bargaining demand, and to win it after striking on it, is the way forward.  It’s a political and economic fight that the CLC should adopt at its May convention. 

            The fight to pull out of NAFTA and adopt a trade policy that’s multi-lateral and mutually beneficial, creating value-added jobs, building  sustainable primary and secondary industry and manufacturing, will need the CLC to bring the labour movement and its allies into the streets, to oppose capitalist corporate globalization supported by both Trump and the Big Business parties in Canada.  

            Mass mobilizations are also needed to get Canada out of NATO, to bring Canadian troops home, and to adopt a foreign policy of peace and disarmament.

            Workers in Canada can show their solidarity and support for workers’ struggles globally by standing shoulder to shoulder in opposition to austerity and war, capitalist globalization, Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, reaction and fascism.  They can stand with Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Palestine, and all those countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa fighting for their right to self-determination and independence from US interference, including those who choose a socialist path of development.

            Working people, youth, women, the unemployed and labour must use their united might to oppose compromise with US war-mongers and the reactionary, fascist-supported administration of Trump’s government of oilmen, generals and bankers. 


Labour and its partners must unite and fight for a People’s Agenda for Canada, organizing mass mobilizations to campaign for:

            Fair trade, not NAFTA – multi-lateral trade with all countries that is beneficial to all parties, and includes long term credits for developing and socialist countries;

            A foreign policy of peace and disarmament – Get out of NATO and NORAD, Cut military spending by 75%, bring home Canadian troops involved in foreign wars;

            Fight Climate Change – nationalize natural and energy resources; close the tar sands and guarantee jobs in public development of new energy sources such as solar, wind, thermal, and renewable energy;

            Create Jobs – invest in a national housing program to build affordable social housing across Canada; invest in value-added manufacturing, including a Canadian car and urban and inter-urban mass rapid transit; agricultural implements industry; machine tool industry; ship-building; expand social programs;

            Raise wages and incomes – raise the minimum wage to $20; substantially increase pensions and drop the age for a full pension and OAS to 60; introduce a guaranteed annual income at a living wage; increase EI to 90% of former earnings and expand to cover all job seekers including part-time and first-time job seekers   Enact universal pay and employment equity; repeal the Temporary Foreign Workers Act;

            Expand immigration and refugee acceptance and re-settlement; scrap the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement;

            Expand universal social programs and Medicare, and introduce a system of universally accessible, affordable, quality public childcare;

            Eliminate tuition fees and make post-secondary education accessible to all;

            Protect and expand civil, social, labour and democratic rights.  Enforce and enact anti-hate laws. 


            In this centenary year of the victory of the Great October Revolution, which opened the door to socialism and workers’ power around the world, we recall the historic struggle of the working class in Russia to create a society free of exploitation and oppression, a society of equality and justice, where working people were in the driver’s seat and corporations, greedy landowners and landlords were put out of business, and war-mongers and profiteers sent packing.  With 100 years of both heroic and painful experience of war and fascism, and the overthrow of the socialist states in Europe, we know that socialism represents the future, and capitalism is the past.  There is no other rung on the ladder of human development between capitalism and socialism.  The time has come – is overdue – for working people to take control of our own destiny, to establish working class political power.

            In the struggles ahead, working people will build socialism anew, learning from the experiences of the past and building for the future.  The struggle continues, more urgent than ever.

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PV Vancouver Bureau

            Another of BC Premier Christy Clark’s pet projects has taken a serious credibility hit, just three weeks before the May 9th provincial election.

            First it was the premier’s wildly exaggerated claims during the 2013 election campaign that proceeds from liquid natural gas (LNG) projects would bring billions of dollars into the provincial treasury. Clark projected that several LNG plants would be up and running by 2017, creating thousands of new jobs and generating enough revenues to expand economic infrastructure and pay down B.C.’s debts.

            That scenario was panned as a pipe-dream by some observers at the time, and four years later, it appears the critics were right. The drastic fall in global energy prices and other factors have combined to shut the door on any significant new international investments in LNG projects on the west coast. Just as embarrassing for the premier, her allocation of non-existent LNG revenues in the most recent provincial budget was scooped up by the NDP to help that party present a “fully-costed” election platform. That move made it difficult for Clark to criticize the NDP’s platform promises without admitting that her own figures were completely unfounded.

            The other Liberal megaproject has been the Site C dam on the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia. This massive plan to flood 83 miles of river valley - which includes indigenous territories and prime agricultural land - will cost at least $8.5 billion. The premier has been a key figure in driving preparatory work ahead, hoping to make it uneconomical for a new government to suspend the project. The Liberals have always claimed that sales of hydroelectric power from Site C will eventually cover the construction costs and generate significant revenues for the province. Critics have stressed that the government’s numbers always fail to account for the losses of farmland, let alone the violation of First Nations treaty rights.

            Now, a new report by researchers at the University of British Columbia says that Site C will not benefit the provincial economy, and that power from the hydroelectric station will likely be exported at losses of up to $1 billion.

            Released on April 19, the devastating report examines three options from a “business standpoint: cancelling, suspending or completing Site C. It concludes that the project should be put on hold and reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission, because changes since the initial approval mean the dam is no longer the most cost-efficient option for producing power.

            The experts found that wind power and energy conservation have become cheaper options for generating electricity, and that BC Hydro's predicted demand for electricity has dropped significantly. Electricity from Site C won't be fully needed for nearly 10 years after the project's expected completion date in 2024, and the surplus energy would have to be exported at prices far below cost, leading to losses of at least $1 billion. Under BC Hydro's forecast demand, the analysis says, cumulative losses would be nearing $2.7 billion by 2036.

            "The business case for Site C is far weaker now than when the project was launched, to the point that the project is now uneconomic," said UBC's Karen Bakker, who co-authored the report.

            But the researchers also point to some good news: the point of no return has not been reached. They calculate that suspending the project would save ratepayers up to $870 million, and that outright cancellation by the end of June would save just over $1.6 billion.

            Grasping at straws, Premier Clark told the media that Site C is still the right option for B.C., given the growing provincial population. She admitted she had not seen the UBC study, but said the project is about “meeting the province's energy needs in the future.”

            The dam has been strongly opposed by local farms, environmentalists and many First Nations people. But last January, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed a lawsuit from two B.C. First Nations that were trying to block the project. By the end of June, BC Hydro will have spent over $1.8 billion on the hydroelectric station.

            Communist Party of BC leader George Gidora, who is a candidate in the riding of Surrey-Whalley, welcomed the UBC report as scientific confirmation of the views of Site C opponents. The CPBC has spoken out against the project from the beginning, sharply criticizing the short-sighted view that any temporary job creation resulting from building the dam would justify the long-term economic losses and environmental destruction.

            “Site C has always been about the Premier’s political ambitions, not about the needs of British Columbians,” said Gidora. “The First Nations of northern BC need to have their traditional territories protected from devastation, the farmers of the Peace River region deserve the right to keep on producing food for our population, and the taxpayers of the province need to be protected from Christy Clark’s drive to pile on needless debts in pursuit of her electoral dreams. Her claims that this project is needed to create employment for the working class of British Columbia and to meet our future energy needs is just as wrong as her arguments about the so-called benefits of LNG projects.”

            The Communist Party of BC has called on all political parties in this campaign to take seriously the findings of the UBC study, and to pledge to scrap this wasteful white elephant immediately, before more economic and environmental damage is committed.

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People’s Voice Editorial

            As this issue goes to press, the Liberal government of BC faces the verdict of west coast voters within days. Public opinion surveys give the NDP a narrow lead, and the Greens are reported to be making big gains on Vancouver Island. But few observers pay much attention to the polls, after the NDP was widely projected to win big in 2013, only to give up a huge early advantage and wind up with virtually the same number of seats as in 2005 and 2009.

            Once again, when this campaign began the corporate media dropped any real criticism of Premier Christy Clark, despite her government’s appalling record: happily taking huge payoffs from energy monopolies and big developers, callous public statements, attacks on working people and the poor, and cruel cuts to social programs. Media backing may help the Liberals win re-election, but if that happens, the NDP can blame its own decision to put forward a platform with only minimal progressive content. The NDP’s support for a $15/hour minimum wage and for the proposed $10/day child care program are important, but too timid to energize their own working class base in large parts of the province’s interior.

            Only the Communist Party of BC candidates have put forward a truly radical platform, including a rollback of the Liberal tax cuts for the wealthy (which would bring in at least $2.5 billion annual revenue), a $20 minimum wage, 100,000 low-income and social housing units, an end to funding for elite private and religious schools, rejection of Big Energy’s fossil fuel extraction and export projects, a truly universal child care system, a 100% increase in social assistance and disability rates, and much more.

            It’s time to drive the Liberals out of office in Victoria, and where the Communists are on the ballot, they deserve the support of progressive voters.

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People’s Voice Editorial

            The war in Afghanistan took yet another tragic turn on April 21, with the killing of 150 Afghan troops by insurgents at a military base outside Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province. The attack led to resignations of the Defense Minister and the army chief, along with the usual pledges that the war against the Taliban would be conducted more efficiently.

            One detail was little noticed in North America: the attack targetted Camp Chapman, one of the first U.S. bases in Afghanistan, and one that has had a significant CIA and Special Operations presence. The base was the location of a 2010 suicide bombing that killed seven CIA officers, revealing major flaws in U.S. intelligence.

            Just as noteworthy, the assault came just days after the giant “MOAB” (“Mother Of All Bombs”) was dropped by the U.S. military on a cave system used by Taliban forces, killing dozens of insurgents and civilians. That bombing was greeted with jubilation by the U.S. media and political elite, who claimed an impending victory over the Taliban, and even more sickeningly, that this “proved” that Donald Trump is becoming “more presidential.”

            The truth is that the war in Afghanistan is now the longest military conflict in U.S. history, with no “light at the end of the tunnel.” The death toll since the U.S., Canada and other NATO allies invaded the country in October 2001 includes some 30,000 civilians, an estimated 3,500 U.S. coalition troops, 25,000 Afghan government troops and security personnel, and thousands of Taliban insurgents. Despite the casualties and the enormous costs of the conflict, “victory” is nowhere in sight, and Afghanistan remains a divided land, saddled with a brutal and reactionary U.S.-backed government in Kabul. Trump is said to be considering yet another troop deployment, but Yankee imperialism will never win this war. It’s time to admit defeat and bring the troops home.

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By Paul Bentley, Toronto

            From Buenos Aires to Toronto, teachers are engaged in a long war to defend public education and to resist the slow dismantling of the decent working conditions they achieved during the early post-war era. In so doing they are setting the pace for other working class struggles against privatization and increasingly precarious working conditions.

            It is the strength of teachers as an irreplaceable mass of workers concentrated in factory-like working conditions that has turned them into a post-modern proletariat. In many cases this flies against their own inclinations, for the teacher is by nature wedded to orderly conditions in the classroom; and prefers creativity over political conflict. 

            But teachers are now compelled by circumstances to overcome their inhibitions. Their very strength has made them the prime target of the corporate assault on socialized institutions.

            And teachers must feed their families like everyone else. They cannot turn a blind eye to inflation rates of over 40% when confronted with salary increases of only 19%, as offered today by the government of Argentina

            That is why in ongoing protests Argentinian teachers are blocking traffic, setting up a free “tent school” in front of the Congress building, and pushing school start dates later. Similarly, in Chile, thousands of teachers hit the streets in April to condemn the lack of action by President Michelle Bachelet regarding promised reforms for the country’s prohibitively expensive and privatized education system. 

            In Mexico, teachers are taking action against the “Gasolinazo,” an ongoing nationwide hike in gas prices implemented by President Peña Nieto; for in order to work most teachers must travel by car. The National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) was joined by the “normalistas,” teacher trainers, in leading mass protests against prices and privatization, such as the temporary hijacking of buses and cars to block traffic in Oaxaca on April 18.  

            The Barbados Secondary School Teacher’s Union (BSTU), for its part, led a “March for Respect” of hundreds of teachers and their supporters on April 6. BSTU members argue that newly assigned marking of national standardized tests is not part of their contracts, and thus the ministry is demanding unpaid work from already underpaid teachers.

            Early this past month in the United States, Teachers unions from Seattle to Chicago have held votes on whether or not to hold a one-day strike on May Day in order to, as the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has put it, “Resist Racism, Rebuild Community”. Though the voting went against a strike, the CTU are going ahead with mass action on May Day, and insist on their members rights to “use one of their Personal Business Days or an authorized unpaid ‘0 Day’”, to join the May Day activities. 

            Meanwhile, here in Canada the struggle continues with the Passage of Bill 92, the School Boards Collective Bargaining Amendment Act, (SBCBA) by the Ontario Legislature. On the one hand, the SBCBA enables passage of favourable deals reached with Ontario teachers in which they gain salary increases of 4% over two years, and compensation for the illegal suppression their right-to-strike in 2012. 

            On the other hand, this comes at the cost of subtle measures attached to the Bill that undermine union democracy by imposing centralized bargaining, and unreasonable early notification requirements before any strike action can be taken in the future.

            Also, the short 2-year time period for the new “extension” contract with Ontario teachers sets them up for a dangerous clash with a newly elected, likely Conservative, government that, so early in its term, will not be inclined to be nearly so generous. 

            Still, the settlement with Ontario’s teachers was ratified by a strong majority of teachers on April 7, raising the ante for the Ontario Government in negotiating with other unions. They must now meet the precedent set by teachers of no-concession bargaining, and an increase of wages that keeps pace with inflation. 

            Let us hope that teachers, and other workers, in Argentina will be so lucky.

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Resolution adopted unanimously by delegates to the Vancouver and District Labour Council, April 18, 2017:

            Because Syria has been embroiled in a devastating civil war since 2011, which has killed an estimated 400,000 people and displaced many thousands more; and

            Because allegations of chemical weapons use have been levelled against the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian Arab Armed Forces; and

            Because these allegations have been denied by the Syrian government, and its Russian allies, who place the blame on rebel forces; and

            Because United States President Donald Trump unilaterally ordered the launch of fifty-nine missiles into Syrian territory in response to these allegations, and days later the USA used its largest non-nuclear weapon, an 11-ton Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb, against an ISIS-held area in Afghanistan, and

            Because this action has led to a dangerous deterioration of diplomatic relations in the Middle East, which could easily and rapidly develop into a full-scale international conflagration; and

            Because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged "full support" to the United States' bombing of Syria, and has consistently remained lock-step with U.S. foreign policy in regards to the Syrian war;

            The Vancouver and District Labour Council will reaffirm its policy, adopted in September of 2016, in support of welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada; and

            The Vancouver and District Labour Council will call for a thorough and unbiased United Nations investigation into the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians; and

            The Vancouver and District Labour Council will condemn both the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the consequential U.S. bombings of Syria and Afghanistan, in violation of international law including the United Nations Charter; and

            The Vancouver and District Labour Council will call upon the Liberal government and Prime Minister Trudeau to reverse its decision to support illegal aggressive actions of the U.S., remove Canada from participation in the U.S.-led coalition in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and call for a political solution to the conflicts in the Middle East.

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People’s Voice Letter to the Editor

            Ukrainian and Russian - We are children of the same country

            Most people in Ukraine have Russian and Ukrainian background. I was born in Ukraine in the Communist family. It didn't matter what language you spoke. When I listened to my parents and grandparent, I was fascinated by the values of those times.

            So I want to ask what happened in our country? Why did we begin to hate each other just because of national-ethnic origin? Who benefits from fomenting nationalism in such a form and at such a price?

            The Ukrainian government should answer why the civil war, which has led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people, and millions of refugees, is called an 'anti-terrorism' operation, and not a fratricidal war. This operation is against its own people. Residents of eastern Ukraine became hostages of this war, and it's not their fault. Is it possible that the Ukrainian government does not see that they are deprived of the basic necessities? Or does it simply turn a blind eye to this?

            I want to ask the Ukrainian people, who benefits from this war? Maybe someone knows the answer? I know it... I call to unite all those who want peace in our country: West and East, Russians and Ukrainians, unite! We are all citizens of one country.

            I was beaten by ultranationalists only because of the fact that the St. George's ribbon was on me. This ribbon is a symbol of the memory of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War, who rescued our country from fascism.

            Why are ultranationalists ready to kill me? Because I honor the memory of people who lost their lives during the Great Patriotic War?

            The Ukraine should overcome nationalism. Only then will we be a happy country again!

            (The author is a young Ukrainian now living in Canada)

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May Day 2017 statement, issued by the Secretariat of the World Federation of Trade Unions

 “But, if you think that by hanging us, you can stamp out the labor movement – the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil and live in want and misery – the wage slaves – expect salvation – if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread upon a spark, but there, and there, and behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.” - August Spies, 31, on August 20, 1886, one of the leaders hanged in Chicago, USA.

            The World Federation of Trade Unions on the occasion of the International Workers’ Day on May 1st conveys its militant greetings to all the workers of the planet who struggle for the fulfillment of their contemporary needs through their trade union organizations.

            May Day is a landmark in the workers’ struggles all over the world, since 1886 the demands of migrant workers in Chicago are still relevant today. Their struggle continues today in the struggle for stable work with rights, social security, free health and education, dignified life. Like then, in Chicago the migrant workers, who had gone to the USA for work, stood in the first line of the class struggle, also nowadays the millions of migrant workers can intensify the struggles against capitalist barbarity with their active and militant participation in the trade-unions.

            This year is marked by the sharpening of the intra-imperialist antagonisms which cause even greater intensification of the exploitation of the peoples, as well as the danger of a generalized war. The developments in Africa, Middle East, Asia and Europe prove the aggressiveness of the capital against the workers’ movement, make thousands of people turn to immigration to escape the war zones, while the EU and the European governments pretend that they want to help the refugees to survive.

            The workers all over the world are worried about the aggressiveness of the USA government, of NATO and their allies who in order to gain new markets and rob the natural resources of the countries, are bombarding the peoples of Syria, are killing children in Palestine, are pushing the Venezuelan people to civil conflict, are threatening with the use of nuclear weapons in the Korean peninsula region. They are those who dropped the largest conventional bomb in Afghanistan, they are the same imperialists who support and collaborate with the government of Ukraine which is also supported by fascists, they are the same who support and tolerate the Israeli policies in the Middle East.

            These intra-imperialist antagonisms are deteriorating even more the financial situation of the workers and the pensioners. There is a generalized cut in salaries and pensions, privatizations in social security, public health and education, increase of unemployment, “black” work and restrictions of trade union freedoms. In this general picture the working class and the peoples are being prepared for the militant celebration of the May Day 2017.

            The WFTU calls its affiliates and friends in every corner of the world to honor the International Workers’ Day with every means and in any way possible, to unite their voices and shout: “We organize our struggle against the Imperialistic Barbarity, for the contemporary needs of the people and the youth, for a world without exploitation and wars”

            The WFTU representing 92 million workers in every continent of the world conveys its internationalist solidarity to the heroic people of Cuba who will host the WFTU Presidential Council on May 3rd-5th, to the workers of the world who are fighting against the imperialistic aggressiveness.

            In 2017, after the 17th World Trade Union Congress, the WFTU is stronger, with new forces, new affiliates, but above all with its resolutions.

            We are organizing even more widely and strongly our common actions in every country, in every continent, for the emancipation of the working class, for the struggle for our rights and needs. Against the exploitation system that provokes poverty, wars and refugees.

            The peoples’ enemies are not invincible; invincible are the struggling peoples.

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By Arnold August, member of the Network of Intellectuals in Defense of Humanity (Canada)

            Canada, following the lead of the U.S. in the OAS, is arbitrarily manipulating “democracy”, “human rights” and “political prisoners” to subvert the Bolivarian Revolution and the constitutionally-elected President Nicolás Maduro. On March 23, 2017, Canada along with  Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States of America and Uruguay adopted a declaration on Venezuela. However, these 14 member-states voting in favour of a resolution to invoke the Inter American Democratic Charter of the OAS as a pretext to interfere in Venezuela was not sufficient to carry the approval among the 35 members.

            Nonetheless, while the declaration was not posted on the OAS web site because it could not have been considered an officially approved document, sponsoring counties such as the U.S. and Canada posted it on their respective government web sites. Thus, it remains the political platform of these 14 countries and unofficially of the OAS itself whose Secretary-General Luis Almagro is a servile instrument of  the U.S.

            The declaration cites “democracy”, “human rights” and political prisoners.  Let us take each one of these issues to illustrate how they are their arbitrarily wielded in the OAS.

            Canada has been a member of the OAS since 1990. However, we in Canada are justified in asking Canadian governments why it has never called a special meeting of the OAS to consider American violations of democracy and basic electoral principles. To take only some recent examples, was not the Bush dubious electoral victory in 2000 worthy of an OAS investigation? More recently, it came to light that the Obama/Clinton campaign collaborated with the conglomerate media like CNN to subvert the Sanders campaign. In the same 2016 elections, it was clear for the whole world to see that the Electoral College system, as the direct result of the wealthy slave owners that fashioned the electoral process to keep the majority disenfranchised, is not democratic.

            Would all these flagrant violations of democracy not be worth of consideration by the OAS? Furthermore, the U.S. is the only country in the West whereby, even after having served their prison terms, millions of felons (depending on the states) lose their right to vote for life either by law or through intimidating and cumbersome recourse to recuperate their suffrage rights. Blacks consist of a highly disproportionate percentage of the victims resulting from these voting rights violations. All this and more, but no intervention in the OAS by the Canadian government regarding democracy in the U.S.

            Ottawa’s record on bringing Washington to task in the OAS on violation of human rights is likewise cowardly. During the entire Obama administration Blacks have been gunned down in the streets by the racist state as a vestige of slavery. Does this not consist of the most gruesome example of human rights violations? It is only equalled to the century-long genocide of the native peoples going into 2016 and 2017 as exemplified by the Standing Rock struggle. Yet, not a whimper by Canada in the OAS as this country also ignored the record-number of deportations of Latinos by the Obama administration being followed up and increased by Trump.

            The inconsistent Canadian policy with regards to political  prisoners is as cynical as its stance on democracy and human rights. The U.S. has the highest per-capita prison population in the world. While all the incarcerated are of course not political prisoners, the incarceration system is indeed politically motivated. In this context, there are also hundreds of political prisoners such Leonard Peltier, Native Indian leader and icon serving 35 years and Mumia Abu Jama, a Black activist incarcerated since 1981. Why does Canada not look south right across the border to raise, in the OAS, this issue of political prisoners rather than the supposed political prisoners in Venezuela?

            Canada’s position in the OAS represents the epitome of arbitrariness. If any country should be investigated in the OAS, it should be the U.S. and not Venezuela.

            Canada’s stance does not take into account the anti-U.S. imperialist sentiment of an important section of Canadian society. Specifically, Canadians from all walks of life have demonstrated and issued statements all over the country in support of the Bolivarian Revolution, the heritage of Hugo Chávez and against foreign interference.

            The Canadian government’s servile attitude toward the U.S. does however, unwittingly, highlight the significance of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC by its Spanish initials) that includes the 33 sovereign countries in the Americas except U.S. and Canada. CELAC’s further development is the only answer to the OAS which based on the American and Canadian governments’ U.S.-centric outlook on democracy, human rights and political prisoners.

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By Nino Pagliccia, April 19, 2017

            Chemical weapons kill by causing a terrible death mostly to innocent people not involved in the conflict, but just by being nearby. That inevitably includes children. Those who do not die immediately will live scarred for life physically and mentally.

            There is a reason why the use of chemical weapons is banned. They kill and maim indiscriminately. Considering that nuclear weapons have a more long-lasting and wider lethal effect should make them the primary target of a total ban. Why nuclear weapons are not banned for the same reason is beyond rationale.

            But, beware. Chemical weapons can also have long term and broader effects.

            Nowadays our main concern is about the use of chemical weapons because they have recently caused the death of a reported 80 people including many children near the city of Homs in Syria.

            The U.S. has accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons that Syria is not even possessing, as confirmed by the UN. Based on their own unproven accusation the U.S. decided to strike Syria with a reported 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. It is important to say “unproven” because there is no evidence of responsibility.

            The U.S. track record speaks loudly!

* The U.S. develops and keeps chemical weapons.

* The U.S. facilitates the distribution of chemical weapons.

* The U.S. has used chemical weapons infamously in Vietnam.

* The U.S. has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons.

* The U.S. has used nuclear weapons.

* The U.S. promotes a warmongering bloody foreign policy.

* And finally, we have all seen over and over how the U.S. uses disinformation to justify its own imperial interventions.

            Why would this time be different?

            But let me suggest how the danger of this U.S. psychopathic behaviour transcends the current event in Syria, and how the disinformation about chemical weapons can become a long-range political weapon beyond the borders of Syria.

            Since last April 4, right-wing opposition protesters in Venezuela have led violent demonstrations against the government of Maduro, throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at police.

            Venezuelan police have largely been on the defensive, using shields and water cannons to protect themselves from protesters, and tear gas to disperse uncontrolled crowds committing vandalism against public and private property.

            On Saturday, April 8, however, when protesters intensified their attacks on police, opposition leaders claimed President Nicolas Maduro’s administration used “toxic weapons” to shut down anti-government demonstrations.

            El Hatillo Mayor David Smolansky, a leading figure of the opposition Popular Will party, alleged on Twitter that “Nicolas Maduro is beginning to use chemical weapons as they are using in Syria.” Notice the intentional link.

            But Smolansky wasn’t the only opposition leader spreading this unsubstantiated allegation.

            Venezuelan National Assembly member Armando Armas also claimed Maduro “attacked the population with red toxic gas,” calling him a “dictator” on Twitter. And Popular Will coordinator Marcela Maspero said “police are using a red gas to repress us,” adding that “it can be neutralized with soda and lemon.”

            These allegations are fake news intended to discredit the government by raising the protests to the level of the occurrences in Syria.

            They are fake first and perhaps most obviously, because hundreds of people would have instantly died if the alleged “red toxic gas” was a chemical weapon.

            Second, because the Venezuelan government does not possess chemical weapons, nor has it ever possessed them, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

            Finally, because the right-wing opposition has no proof whatsoever of the alleged chemical weapons used against them.

            Maduro has remarked on how violent opposition forces will stop at nothing to provoke war, including an open treasonous call to foreign intervention in Venezuela.

            “U.S. imperialism is based on lies in order to undertake its interventions against nations,” Maduro said while commenting on Syria, citing Libya and Iraq as other examples.

            We fully share Maduro’s concern about U.S. interventions and spreading of wars that are falsely justified.

            In order to stop this mad race to more wars, we need a multipolar world. I cannot see any other possibility. We need a multipolar world that can challenge the imbalanced expansion of the U.S. empire.

            Russia and China are strong forces that can play a good role in Syria and the rest of the world, including Latin America.

            But ultimately I want to emphasize the message that we – the anti-war movement - must also have an active role in the new multipolar world. We must position ourselves to be part of it. For that we must be strong and united.

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            The Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) has sent a letter to Communist and Workers parties appealing for solidarity in its struggle against recently-adopted undemocratic rules governing political parties.

            Formed in 1931, the PCV was the first party in the country to support Hugo Chavez in his 1998 campaign to be elected President. Now, it faces the possibility of being made illegal for the fourth time during its 86 years of struggle.

            A new set of “Rules for the Renewal of Enrollment Lists of Members of Organizations for National Political Purposes” was issued on March 4, 2016, by the National Elections Council (CNE). The PCV says the rules “contain some terms and conditions which had never been applied before, which are unacceptable to the dignity and safety of a revolutionary organization and its members, and which overstep the current legal framework.”

            It is now mandatory for the membership of all parties to register directly with CNE, “distorting the legally and historically established relationship between the electoral authorities and the political parties, and between these and their respective members.” The PCV argues that these rules violate the organizational principles of the party, by potentially erasing distinctions between full members and supporters.

            The personal data of those who register as members of each party will now be posted on the CNE website. This PCV argues that this weakens the “secret vote” principle, and violates the privacy rights of citizens, risking the personal security and employment of Communists and other left militants, since neo-fascists and employers could access this information to identify and attack revolutionaries. The new Rules drastically reduce the period for registration of enrollment lists, and establish equal procedures and requirements for the parties that did not take part in the previous two elections, and those, like the PCV, which did participate.

            The PCV leadership immediately objected to these changed rules, and proposed amendments, but the electoral authorities never replied.

            For more than fourteen months, the Venezuelan Communists have held bilateral meetings and exchanges with senior Government officials. They have also raised these matters at broader meetings of the parties that make up the “Simón Bolívar Great Patriotic Pole” coalition which drives the Bolivarian process, including the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). They report that while some national leaders of the PSUV have expressed concerns, others have stated that the renewal process is legal, leaving the official position of the party in Government unclear.

            Faced with this situation, on February 16, 2017, the PCV filed at the Constitutional Court of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) an appeal for the annulment of Article 25 of the Law on Political Parties, on the grounds that the new requirements are unconstitutional.

            The Constitutional Court has still not made any decision on the PCV’s appeal. The party says it will not participate in the renewal process as required on May 20 and 21, and will not recognize any person as a member who registers on those two days.

            For its part, the CNE has announced that any party that is not “renewed” by July 19 will lose its legal status and entity.

            The PCV says “This would outlaw the main, oldest and most persistent instrument for the struggle of the Venezuelan working class and people against imperialist domination and capitalist exploitation. Such a threat takes place in the midst of a severe crisis of the extractionist and dependent capitalist model of our country; an increase in the interventionist policies of imperialism against the moral reference that the Bolivarian process still represents; and a sharpening of class contradictions and of the struggle for power between the pro-imperialist right-wing bloc and the forces that support the Government, and even within each of these blocs.”

            In this context, the PCV has called upon the Communist, Workers and revolutionary parties to join a campaign for “No to the illegalization of PCV!”, and to protect the rights and constitutional guarantees of the Venezuelan Communists and to use this campaign also to denounce the ongoing imperialist interference against the sovereignty and self-determination of the Venezuelan people.

            The letter from the PCV was issued by General Secretary Oscar Figuera G., and Carolus Wimmer, Secretary for International Relations.

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By Mohammed Daraghmeh, People’s World

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli prisons have launched a hunger strike in what their leader behind bars called a new step in the Palestinians’ “long walk to freedom.”

            Activists said more than 1,500 of about 6,500 Palestinians held by Israel as so-called security prisoners joined the open-ended protest and that it was the largest such strike in five years. The hunger strikers’ immediate demands included better conditions, including more contact with relatives, and an end to Israel’s detentions without trial.

            In the West Bank and Gaza, thousands staged solidarity marches to mark Prisoners’ Day in the Palestinian areas. The hunger strike was led by Marwan Barghouti, a prominent figure in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.

            Barghouti was arrested in 2002 during the Palestinian uprising and convicted on multiple counts of murder. Israel charged him with directing suicide bombings against its citizens and he was sentenced to five life terms.

            In an op-ed published in The New York Times, Barghouti wrote that Israeli prisons have become the “cradle of a lasting movement for Palestinian self-determination.”

            “This new hunger strike will demonstrate once more that the prisoners’ movement is the compass that guides our struggle, the struggle for Freedom and Dignity, the name we have chosen for this new step in our long walk to freedom,” he wrote.

            Israel’s prison service said Barghouti had been transferred to a different prison. Israel media reported that Barghouti had violated the conditions of his incarceration by communicating with the newspaper and that he had likely smuggled the text out through his lawyer.

            The hunger strike was launched as the approaching half-century mark of Israeli rule over Palestinians appeared to generate renewed interest in the long-running conflict, which in recent years was often overshadowed by war and turmoil elsewhere in the region.

            Abbas and his supporters seek a Palestinian state, in the pre-invasion 1967 lines. In Gaza City, about 2,000 people turned out for a march. This massive strike sends a strong message to Israel; after 50 years of occupation, suppression and oppression, that the prisoners will lead their people from behind bars.

            Qadoura Fares, who runs the Prisoners’ Club advocacy group, said over 1,500 prisoners joined the strike and that more were expected to follow.

            In 2012, hundreds participated in a large-scale strike that lasted 28 days, said Fares. In 2014, dozens of detainees who were being held without trial or charges staged a two-month-long hunger strike to demand their release.

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13) MUSIC NOTES, by Wally Brooker

Bill & Joel Plaskett: 'Solidarity'

Joel Plaskett, the popular singer-songwriter and guitarist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, has built a substantial Canada-wide following over the past 20 years. This year he's sharing the spotlight with his father, the guitarist and singer-songwriter Bill Plaskett, co-founder of the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival. The two have released "Solidarity", a collaborative album, and are currently in the midst of a cross-country tour. For fans of Joel Plaskett, "Solidarity" offers a new perspective. Maybe it's Bill's working-class East London roots, or maybe it's the times we're living in, but there's a greater emphasis on engagement with collective struggles, past and present, than in previous Joel Plaskett releases. Joel's anthem "The Next Blue Sky" is a "Farewell to Nova Scotia" for today's precarious generation. It's followed by a little-known 1908 Wobbly protest song, "We Have Fed You All For a Thousand Years", where the contrasting voices of father and son build in successive verses of militant resolve. Joel's original, "Blank Cheque", tears into climate-change deniers, while Bill's interpretation of "Jim Jones", a traditional song about convicts being transported to Australia expresses the bitterness of the victims of class-based justice.  "Solidarity" concludes with "On Down the River", a lovely ballad by Bill that evokes the lure of the Thames and the East London world that he left long ago. 

Brian Williams slanders Leonard Cohen

Celebrity news host Brian Williams demonstrated the cynical opportunism and moral vacuousness of corporate media when, on the April 6 edition of his MSNBC show The 11th Hour, he misrepresented Leonard Cohen to glorify war. Williams was reacting to images of 59 'Tomahawk' missiles launched earlier that evening by the U.S. on a Syrian airbase. The illegal attack was in response to the April 4 chemical weapons incident in the ISIS-controlled town of Idlib, which killed 80 people. Despite the rush to judgment by the U.S. government and its compliant allies, the perpetrators of this war crime are still unknown. "We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean," Williams gushed. "I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: 'I am guided by the beauty of our weapons'". The line comes from Cohen's 1988 hit "First We take Manhattan", an ironic song which attempts to occupy the mindset of a terrorist. Brian Williams is paid $10 million per year by MSNBC, which is now owned by Comcast, a media giant notorious for its interlocking relations with government. As the saying goes, "he who pays the piper calls the tune".

Kiev censured for banning Russian singer

Russia has withdrawn from the 62nd annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) after its representative was banned by the host country, Ukraine, for having travelled to Crimea in 2015. Julia Samoylova, a 28-year-old Russian singer, had been selected to represent Russia.  Eurovision 2017 will be held in Ukraine May 9-13. Russia withdrew on April 13 after Kiev's Security Service Bureau invoked a law banning admission to Ukraine of persons who have entered Crimea via Russia. Crimea voted by an overwhelming majority to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia shortly after the U.S.-backed right-wing coup in 2014. Ingrid Deltenre, chief of the European Broadcast Union (EBU), which produces the Eurovision contest, condemned Ukraine's action. She called it "absolutely unacceptable", and accused Kiev of "abusing the European Song Competition for political reasons". Deltenre stated that "no previous country has prevented an artist from performing at the ESC, and the EBU would not like a precedent to be set". It's ironic that the theme of this year's Eurovision is "celebrate diversity". Samoylova, who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, has been wheelchair-bound since childhood.

The return of Joan Baez

Renowned U.S. folksinger Joan Baez received a lot of media attention last month after the video of "Nasty Man", her new song about Donald Trump, went viral. In the video, Baez, finger-picking nimbly on an acoustic guitar, sings her "little song about a man gone wrong". The President is a man who "stomps through the famous Rose Garden," but the roses turn up their noses, and tell him "You owe the earth a pardon". She goes on to suggest that he "talk to a shrink" for his "serious psychological disorders." Judging by the comments of trolls , she's offended a number of other "nasty men", but this is par for the course for the 76-year-old Baez, who established her reputation as an outspoken human rights and anti-war activist in the sixties. She performed at the March on Washington in 1963, and was jailed for sitting in at a military induction centre in opposition to the Vietnam War. Whether Baez will be in the forefront of today's anti-war movement remains to be seen. In 2016, she was a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, after having endorsed Barack Obama in 2008. Baez is currently touring with the vocal quartet 4 Voices.

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By Rob Gowland, from The Guardian, weekly newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia

            The capitalist media is at great pains always to portray itself as “free”, independent and definitely not a tool of the government. This state of affairs is constantly paraded before us as not only desirable but as an essential prerequisite for the smooth functioning of democracy, good and efficient governance and just about anything else that could be regarded as socially desirable.

            It’s a load of baloney, of course. The capitalist mass media is big business, and whether it supports or opposes a specific government it will always support the interests of the capitalist ruling class. Different sectors of the ruling class have varying priorities, however, and this is reflected in the mass media each sector controls. Priorities aside, however, all the capitalist mass media have a fundamental commitment to sustaining capitalist class rule, so they will not support anything that actually threatens the dominance of capital or which might weaken its hold on government.

            The effect of this is that, for all their talk of “independence” in the media, in reality capitalism tolerates only a narrow variation of viewpoints in the media, basically ranging from mild right-wing to extreme right-wing. They don’t usually go so far as to ban left wing publications (unless they feel their class rule is actually threatened). Instead, they tolerate them but ensure that they do not have the funds to compete with the capitalist media.

            In this way, they are able to puff their chests out about the “freedom” of the media under capitalism, safe in the knowledge that the working class cannot hope to acquire the means to effectively inform, agitate and organise the masses with an alternative message.

            The result, of course, is that the “news” is invariably biased: no matter what it is about, it is some form of ruling class presentation. Journalists working for capitalist media soon learn what their editors and owners will accept, and tailor their reporting accordingly. Or they find another job. The result is a uniformity of viewpoint on the “news” regardless of the particular mass media platform.

            This uniformity of viewpoint should be an indication to the mass of the people that this source of information is suspect, at least. Instead, capitalism has cleverly turned it into a propaganda virtue: if every news outlet is saying the same thing, it must be true. Right?

            Hardly. On March 22, Russia Today published a piece comparing the approach taken by the capitalist media covering the fighting in and around the city of Mosul with the approach those same media took when reporting on the liberation of Aleppo from Daesh/IS. Russia Today was particularly interested in why the Western mainstream media was downplaying the civilian casualties in Mosul, when similar casualties in Aleppo made strident headlines.

            British journalist Michael Raddie, co-Editor of BSNews, made the pertinent comment: “In the West, the media have an ideology and it all boils down to worthy victims and unworthy victims. The victims of US bombs and British air-strikes are not worthy, because ‘we don’t do that kind of thing’. Our killing of civilians is ‘a mistake, collateral damage’. The Syrian air force’s killing of civilians – if it happens – even if it is alleged to have happened without evidence – or the Russian air strikes: that is ‘atrocities’. And that is the ideology that Western media portray all the time.

            “You only have to look at the coverage of Aleppo. Aleppo was a tale of two cities: for six months, we didn’t hear anything of West Aleppo, we heard about the plight of those in East Aleppo. But we didn’t hear why they were suffering.

            “They were suffering not because of Syrian Arab Army or Russian air-strikes. They were suffering because they were held captive by Al-Qaeda effectively – Al-Nusra Front and other armed groups – who were actually firing missiles [and] hell-fire cannon into West Aleppo. West Aleppo civilians were unworthy because the bombs that were being rained down were part of the regime-change program that we’ve instilled in Syria. It is not surprising to me that we have such distortion in the media in coverage of West Aleppo, East Aleppo and Aleppo in general and Mosul.

            “Obviously in Mosul, we are not going to hear much about the civilian casualties, we are not going to hear much about their plight. We hear about the fleeing. But we are told that they are fleeing ISIS. But most of them are actually fleeing American air-strikes. They understand what is at stake here …Yes, if they stay they’ll probably fall under the captivity of ISIS, but if they stay they’ll probably be bombed by American B-52s as well, so they understand why they are fleeing.”

            Max Abrahms, Professor at North Eastern University in the US added a comment on the attitude of Western media: “There is a selective outreach – not all civilians are equal. The plight of the civilians in Aleppo drew a huge amount of attention in the West. It forced one of the newscasters on CNN to cry and it was just a major news story. However, the plight of civilians elsewhere – in Mosul and Yemen – their plights don’t get nearly as much media attention. And the reason why is because attention is not dictated strictly in terms of the humanitarian basis for concern, but rather there is a politicised component.

            “The Aleppo carnage was depicted at length in order to cast Assad and Putin in a negative light. The same is not true in Mosul and Yemen, and that’s why the Western media doesn’t have nearly as much interest.”

            The carnage in Yemen is the work of the Saudi air-force, using US-supplied planes and bombs. But unlike the crocodile tears shed by on-the-spot Western correspondents about Aleppo, the smashing of Yemen by its very much bigger neighbour is largely ignored by our capitalist mass media.

            Hurrah for a “free press” indeed.

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