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following articles are from the October 1-15, 2016, issue of People's
By J. Boyden
Most Canadians do not expect to see people being dragged out of public federal
government hearings by security guards. I must confess that I share this view.
Imagine my surprise when this happened to me, at the House of Commons Standing
Committee on Government Operations and Estimates meeting on the future of
I submit the following record of events as an appeal to all People’s Voice readers, to try to make your democratic voice heard in this review process.
Over the past few months, this newspaper has reported on how labour and community folks from across the country have been paying close attention to the struggle of the Postal Workers for a new collective agreement. While a tentative deal has been reached, making some gains on items like pay equity, the struggle to stop privatization of the post office is far from over.
This is a struggle led by the Canadian
In fact, right at the moment CUPW is holding ratification votes far and wide, the government has launched fifteen days of public hearings into the future of the Post Office.
Following the review,
This was the context for last year’s October 15th federal election, where the
Trudeau Liberals called for a moratorium on Megaboxes. Millions of voters went
to the polls with the Liberals on record as calling to Save
The consultation that is actually happening reminds me of the 80s sci-fi classic, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The story opens with the main character, Arthur Dent, lying on the ground in front of a bulldozer which is about to smash down his little house to build a new highway. Spread out before the machine’s blade, Dent has the following exchange with a bureaucrat, who tells him that for nine months the announcement was on public display:
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a flash light."
"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard."
Moments later, aliens appear and inform the Earth that it is being demolished to build an interstellar highway by a Vogon Constructor Fleet, as announced for several years in another solar system.
How different is real Liberal’s approach from these fictional Vogons?
This summer, far away from the Canadian people in another galaxy called
Around the same time, the Standing House Committee quietly announced a whirlwind tour for fifteen days in September, often doing two cities in a day. This meant the hearings would be during work hours. The deadline for a request to speak was August 26. Three weeks later, on Sept. 19, the Task Force released its discussion paper, the framework for the Committee’s consultation. Then on the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 23, the location of the first hearing was released, to take place the following Monday morning, Sept. 26.
Privatization was the Tories' agenda for the post office. By Parliamentary rules, the Chair of this committee is a Conservative. The Liberals have yet to declare their views. This creates a situation where mass public pressure can now make privatization too hot to handle for Trudeau.
The Task Force report is a trial balloon. Entitled “
Myself and some activists went down to the Sept. 26 hearing in
At the end, I got up to ask for a few minutes, to let the small audience speak, which is common in other public hearings. Instead, a security guard dragged me out of the room – which is illegal, only police can physically touch you. As I was being man-handled, one of the exiting MPs came up and very politely apologized. I urge you to make an online submission, he said in a surreal moment.
No doubt myself and many other people will do so as a basic minimum. Others
will probably try to speak at these hearings. Now is the time to Save
Special to PV
“Those unions that enjoy the right to strike have no guarantee that sacrificing their jobs and their livelihood will result in victory but they nevertheless engage in lengthy strikes, not because they are assured of winning but because they are determined to fight”—William Burrus, 1998
Nonetheless, the situation is quite different for those involved in the functioning of the Vieux-Port and its service activities. The workers of the Société du Vieux-Port de Montréal (SVPM) are experiencing severe precarious conditions, with low two-tier income wages, in addition to lock-out threats and court injunctions to ban workers from protesting on site, among other measures.
According to Jacques Fontaine, one of the workers interviewed by Rank and File , “the company used false claims to get that injunction. Now the union is taking the head of security to court for making these false claims, which were the basis of the court injunctions”.
Ironically, the origin of the workers’ despair comes from a Crown Corporation, the Canada Lands Company (CLC), which owns SVPM. This Toronto-based company is currently applying its federal jurisdiction to impose the use of scab workers, which is forbidden under Québec jurisdiction.
According to its website, the main goal of CLC is “to acquire properties with a high potential for surplus, in order to develop real estate projects”. That would define this organization as a public agency for promoting land speculation, which coincides with the opinion of the striking workers, who stated that “CLC has very deep pockets, as it plans to obtain $180 million in profits during the period 2015-2020 (..) rather than tackling the insecurity experienced by its staff, management of the Old Port/Canada Lands instead hired strike-breakers (scabs) to continue to earn the revenues provided by the parking lots and the events held by private dealers”.
However, the response of the workers has been bold. Since May 27th,
300 unionized (Public Service
The workers of the Vieux-Port feel they face discrimination in comparison to other city workers, who perceive a higher salary for similar jobs. The SVPM established a two-tier hiring system, which they say constitutes a deliberate strategy of the employer (to) ensure that the starting salary of new employees does not follow the increase in inflation. This trend has been depicted in a graph on the campaign’s website: vieuxportengreve.info.
In this struggle, PSAC Local 10333 workers have been supported by the labour
But reaction from the federal Liberal government has been almost non-existent, as Fontaine stated in his Rank and File interview: “We have had no support or response. We met our local Liberal MP, Mark Miller, but nothing has happened. We have tried to meet the Heritage minister, Mélanie Joly, and the minister responsible for Canada Lands Company, the Public Services & Procurement minister Judy Foot, but neither has responded. The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is also a local MP and he too has not met us”.
In these circumstances, the strike is a bold move to improve working conditions and to prevent further damage (given that their employer had threatened them with a lockout during the upcoming season). During strikes, workers strengthen their struggles, set the context for enhanced working conditions and reinforce unity among themselves and other unions, by establishing a long lasting solidarity and extracting inspiring lessons for future strike processes.
The following statement by Jacques Fontaine clearly summarises the goals and
mood held by the workers of the
“This is one of the first strikes in
1. Building the fight for $15 in other areas will greatly help our struggle. This is a key issue for all the working class.
2. Sending messages of support to PSAC Local 10333 – Old Port Workers of Montreal, Box 116, Succursale Place D’Armes, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 3H8.
3. We would welcome financial support (cheques made payable to Syndicat des employés de la Société du Vieux-Port de Montréal, at above address).
4. Sending letters to Prime
Minister Trudeau firstname.lastname@example.org
urging the government of
People’s Voice also asks activists and union members who visit Montréal to help
by respecting their picket line by not going south of Rue de la Commune at the
As the debate continues over the
future of public education in
We begin by expressing our appreciation for the long-standing efforts of VSB
trustees to find ways to minimize the impact of provincial government underfunding
on the classrooms of
This trend became much more severe with the election of the Liberal government in 2001, followed by outrageous actions such as the illegal tearing up of collective agreements, the refusal to help reduce student-teacher ratios, demands to close large numbers of schools, the appointment of biased “auditors”, the imposition of the quickly discredited “95 percent capacity” rule, repeated delays of promises to fund crucial seismic upgrades of schools, and much more. During this government’s time in office, the percentage of provincial revenues going to K-12 public schools has fallen from 20% to 15%; meanwhile, funding for private and religious schools has grown rapidly, along with a range of tax credits and other incentives for parents to shift their children to such schools.
In our view, these actions, along with the frequent attacks against the BC Teachers Federation by Premier Christy Clark (starting from her term as Education Minister) reveal a pattern which leads to one conclusion: that the agenda of this Liberal government is to create a two-tier system: private and religious schools catering mainly to wealthier families, providing a higher quality of education, increasingly funded by taxpayers; and a public school system for the bulk of the population, forced to deal with funding shortfalls and constant downloading of new costs. The reduction of funding for education (along with cuts to health care, social assistance and disability rates, and other areas of social spending) was artificially forced by one of the government’s first actions fifteen years ago - the massive tax cut for the corporations and upper income earners, which continues to deprive the provincial treasury of an estimated $2.5 billion per year. This tax cut was deliberately implemented to set the stage for a continual crisis in the provision of public services, including the education system, allowing the Liberals to promote privatization, user fees, deregulation, and other right-wing policies promoted by the Fraser Institute and other corporate think-tanks.
By 2016, the result of this agenda has been to take
Within this context,
At times this meant adopting budgets which included painful cuts in other important areas, leaving the District with nowhere else to trim costs, despite the propaganda lies of the Liberal government and other right wing forces. This year, in response to widespread public calls to stand up against underfunding, the VSB Trustees refused to adopt a cuts budget, taking a position which required courage and principles.
Today the Board faces a massive push to shut down schools in Vancouver, a
transparently obvious attempt to save the province hundreds of millions of
dollars in seismic upgrade costs, but at the expense of students, teachers,
support staff and families in the public education system. Not surprisingly,
most of the schools facing potential closure or other undesirable options are
We do not call for special measures to save this or that school or program; such an approach, as always, plays into the provincial government’s hands by turning neighbourhoods against each other. Having said that, we hope that the Trustees and management will find ways to minimize the impact of underfunding on those most disproportionately affected, in particular indigenous and special needs students.
More importantly, we call upon the Board and Trustees to expand your efforts to a wider level, by urging a province-wide campaign to win adequate education funding. This must become a crucial issue in the May 2017 provincial election campaign, putting strong pressure on all political parties to reverse the anti-education policy agenda, not just with minor spending increases, but by pledging to reverse the 2001 tax cuts and restore funding for education, health and social programs.
By Graham L. Wilson
Last December my girlfriend began experiencing discomfort after eating, which escalated over the next few months. In February she was found to be suffering from gallstones, necessitating a cholecystectomy. By March, she was on the waiting list, but the surgery date was set for next December. She was informed that the office was already scheduling surgeries into 2017, with no chance of a cancellation slot even until late June. Despite experiencing frequent painful attacks, often only resolvable through vomiting, she was just going to have to wait it out.
As instructed, she began to regulate her diet, although her body's reactions remained unpredictable. Worse was the increasing frequency of attacks seemingly without any trigger. Fortunately her manager was empathetic, and so patience was shown to interruptions in her work as a receptionist. However, as the attacks increased in frequency, she was missing more and more hours and pay without restitution, with months still to go. Worse throughout was a prevalent attitude that simply because she is a fuller figured young woman, obviously her eating habits were triggering so many attacks. A crude assumption, and untrue, as the surgery eventually revealed that she had many sizable and awkwardly shaped stones.
Finally, in mid-June things reached a point beyond our ability to manage. After
she grew increasingly pained and pallid, we drove her to
We had hoped, as did the staff at Drayton, that she would be operated on in
Unsurprisingly, by early July she again required admission to hospital, this
time straight to the Misericordia in
I doubt this story is unique in its suffering. The conditions stacked against us are common and affect everyone: increasingly decrepit hospitals, so overfilled and understaffed that they desperately shuffle around patients and resources; surgeons so busy that nothing short of potentially bursting organs gets a patient seen; and nurses so overworked that hours go by before painkiller can even be administered. This is one of the human costs of austerity, of the gratuitous under-funding inflicted by Ralph Klein and his cronies, and a cycle to be perpetuated by an NDP government constricted by business interests. We must not only fight to save our public health care system, but to expand and perfect it so that people being forced to suffer through great pain will be a thing of the past.
People’s Voice Editorial
Later this month, the United Nations General Assembly will vote for the 25th
consecutive year on a resolution calling upon the
To any rational observer, it seems unbelievable that the most powerful country
in history continues this brutal campaign to starve a tiny socialist island
into submission, yet the blockade carries on after fifty years of failure,
inflicting more human damage upon the Cuban people, in violation of all moral
ethics and international law. Almost two years ago, diplomatic relations
resumed between the two countries, and many assumed that the blockade would
soon be a relic of the past. Instead, the people of
The “justification” for this inhuman and bizarre policy is the claim that
The blockade of
People’s Voice Editorial
British Columbians go to the polls next May 9, but Liberal Premier Christy
Clark is making campaign announcements to refurbish her tarnished
“family-friendly” image. The minimum wage has been hiked a few cents, some
(completely inadequate) funds have been earmarked for housing and education, and
after a decade of foot-dragging, the Liberals have finally added gender
identity and expression protections to the Human Rights Code. Given the
reluctance of the opposition New Democrats to put forward a strong progressive
But the Premier’s claims about a “strong economy” must be exposed. Upper-income earners, real estate developers and corporations have benefitted from the whopping tax cuts implemented by former premier Gordon Campbell, costing the provincial treasury a staggering $2.5 billion per year. But most British Columbians face a very different reality.
While B.C.’s gross domestic product is projected to grow by 2.9% in 2016, well above the Canadian average of 1.2%, related job growth is mainly part-time work. Statistics Canada figures show the average pay for new jobs is $19.30 an hour, below the Canadian average of $19.95, putting the province sixth out of 10. Weekly wages keep dropping in B.C., while the consumer price index goes up faster than the Canadian average, due to skyrocketing housing costs. The welfare case load is rising, as more employable workers can’t find jobs, and 53 per cent of British Columbians would have trouble paying their bills if they missed a single paycheque. Despite the small increase in the minimum wage, one out of four workers in B.C. earns less than $15 an hour.
Under the B.C. Liberals, a “strong economy” means mega-profits for the rich and the corporations, but poverty, precarious employment and high housing costs for working people.
By T.J. Petrowski
Politicians of all political stripes like to dress inflated military budgets, and the wicked arms deals that frequently accompany them, in terms of “job creation.”
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, arguing against any reduction in military funding, claimed that any decrease “would result in job cuts that would add potentially one (percentage point) to the national unemployment rate.”
A closer examination will reveal something different. By not producing a life-serving product, i.e., an article used for either consumption or for further production, military spending is not only the worst of available choices for job creation, it contributes to industrial and infrastructure decay.
Researchers at the
A permanent war economy also leads to deindustrialization and the slow death of local communities. Workers are led to believe that it is due to their excessively high wages that multinational corporations transfer production overseas. While it is true that multinational corporations have transferred production to countries such as Mexico and the Philippines to profit from low wages, that in itself does not explain how after World War II the U.S. auto industry, for example, paid the highest wages in the industry while still being able to produce the lowest price per pound of vehicle in the Ford, Chevrolet, and Plymouth plants, and why they no longer can (or will). Nor does it explain how Japanese and European automakers have been able to seize a large chunk of the North American market.
These are questions
In the 1950s, in the heat of the space race between the Soviet Union and the
Since capability and performance are primary to the military when selecting a contractor, any incentive to offset costs by changes in internal production methods and design were discarded by the leading manufacturers. Costs were simply “passed” along to be added to the final price. This cost-maximizing is at the root of the exponential increase in the cost of military equipment, such as the F-35 fighter jet, which has increased in price by more than 93% before even being put into operation.
Between 1971 and 1978, as the new management style of cost-maximizing became more widespread, the cost of machine tools increased on average by 85% annually, outpacing the rise in wages. Consequently, in important industries like steel and auto, there was no incentive to invest in new machinery, and this in turn led to an unprecedented decrease in productivity. The machine tools industry itself had failed to invest in the very technology it developed to improve productivity.
In the decade 1965-1975, annual productivity growth in
The massive quantity of capital needed to feed the war machine has also led to
the deterioration of infrastructure and social services. “The federal government,”
writes Melman (p. 231), “has
been milking the economy of
Healthcare, social services, education, and clean water have all been shortchanged to fund the war machine. In 1981, according to a report by the Council of State Planning Agencies, one out of every five bridges required rehabilitation or reconstruction; the Interstate Highway System was deteriorating at a rate requiring reconstruction of 2,000 miles of road a year; and 9,000 dams were in need of safety improvements (p. 228).
The case of
Due the application of federal funds to the war machine, an estimated 1,015,000
man-years of labour was lost between 1977-1978. This estimate, however, does
not include the secondary effects of the absorption of capital by the war
machine, “like further productivity forgone owing to the economically
nonproductive character of military goods and services.” (p. 238). The social cost of the
A permanent war economy is not sustainable. The working class and all peace loving people must reject any further military expenditures, and struggle for a future where peace and prosperity are to be shared by all.
(For sources used in this article, visit the author’s blog at https://tjpetrowski.com).
The “White Helmets,” an
Dear Members of Parliament:
It is with great disappointment and regret that we find ourselves calling into
question your unanimous caucus decision1, announced by MP Nathan Cullen, to support the nomination
of the White Helmets organization in
In making his announcement, Cullen called the White Helmets “incredible civilians”, “connected to peace”, “the best of humanity”, “saving lives...in the midst of terror.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The White Helmets organization was founded by James LeMesurier, a British army
officer formerly connected to the notorious Blackwater mercenary organization.
The White Helmets describe themselves as “fiercely independent.” However, they
are actually well-funded by the same governments who are waging the current
The White Helmets operate only in terrorist-controlled areas of
Is Mr. Cullen and the caucus unaware that the White Helmet leader, Raed Saleh,
was refused entry to the
The White Helmets are first-responder poseurs. The REAL
In short, contrary to Mr. Cullen's statement to the CBC, the White Helmets are
not civilians. And they are not “connected to peace.” In fact, they were
recruited as part of the illegal regime change operation in
To his credit, party leader Tom Mulcair argued on March 20, 2015, in the House
of Commons against expanding the Canadian military mission in the Middle East
to include the bombing of
“But our friends are doing it” is simply not a defence. That sort of childish reasoning is more suitable to the schoolyard than it is to the House of Commons and the Prime Minister should know better.
The fact is, what this government is proposing will put our Canadian Forces in the dubious position of acting outside of international law.
New Democrats will not stand for it.4
The White Helmets call for a no-fly zone over
We note that your decision to support the White Helmets was taken unilaterally
at a closed caucus retreat held several days ago in
We would like to emphasize that the humanitarian tragedy in
Judging by Cullen's statement, it's obvious that the caucus did not consider
the partisan and fraudulent nature of the White Helmets. We urge you, then, to
reverse your decision to support the nomination of the White Helmets
organization for the Nobel Peace Prize. Further, our anti-war Coalition urges
you to lobby for an end to Canadian economic sanctions against
Thank you for your consideration of this very important matter.
Yours truly, Doug Brown, Co-chair, Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War
4. March 30, 2015 - prepared text of speech to Parliament; www.macleans.ca/for-the-record-tom-mulcair-on-the/
By Zoltan Zigedy, mltoday.com
Thanks to the ubiquity of cell-phone cameras, police racism is now apparent to even the most disinterested citizen. The recorded police murders of African Americans at work, in their cars, committing minor traffic violations, or at leisure, are widely known.
The unwarranted shootings of unarmed African American youth, women, elderly, or the impaired, have been seen via the media by nearly everyone. There is no longer much public denial of the existence of police violence against Black people. There remains, however, a continuing debate on the extent of the violence, its causes, and its meaning.
At one pole are the apologists. Apart from the blatant racists who salute the violence, deniers argue that the incidents are rare or that the violence is only the result of a few “bad apples.” The emerging facts belie the belief that police violence is uncommon.
And the “bad apple” metaphor collapses in the face of the insular solidarity of virtually all police forces; “professional” law enforcement and its political overseers refuse to professionally discard the “bad apples.” If the supposed “good” cops will not step up to repudiate the racists, they are racists, too.
In profound opposition to the apologists are the Marxists, who see the police as a structure or institution that is inseparably bound up with service to those who rule. Yes, police serve and protect, but primarily they serve and protect the propertied class and its interests. The reason “protect and serve” rings so hollow to minorities, trade unionists, and other groups is that the police are a part of a larger criminal justice system devised solely to keep order for wealth and power.
Police violence, to the Marxist, is not personal, random, or pathological, but
systemic. As a corollary, racist police violence serves to contain a group that
has historically challenged power and authority. African American resistance to
It is for these reasons that the African American people have suffered a special, targeted relationship with the protectors of ruling-class interests-- the police. The mass insurrections that have frequently erupted in recent decades have spurred the police to serve as a veritable occupying army in Black neighbourhoods.
“Just the Facts…”Of course the Marxist charge of systemic police violence and abuse is not an easy pill for many people to swallow, particularly if they live in communities distant from or walled off from urban neighbourhoods where the police concentrate their violence. So, facts are needed.
For this, we turn to an unlikely source: a lengthy essay/book review by a conservative academic in The Wall Street Journal. Professor Edward P. Stringham (Is America Facing a Police Crisis?, July 30-31, 2016) notes that opinion polls show that confidence in police is at a 20-year low “among Americans of all ages, education levels, incomes, and races…,” but is even lower for African Americans. All citizens agree overwhelmingly that police should wear body cameras. Such is the general mistrust in police credibility.
To give perspective to the “crisis,” Stringham offers the vital statistics on police killing and police killed. He cites a “victimization” rate of police officers, thought to be risking their lives protecting us, as 4.6 deaths per 100,000 officers. But the “average American faces a nearly identical homicide rate of 4.5 per 100,000 and the average male actually faces a homicide rate of 6.6 per 100,000.”
So much for the notion that “protecting” the public is more dangerous than
being “protected” by the police. By contrast, the police kill “134
[disproportionately Black] Americans per 100,000 officers, a rate 30 times the
homicide rate overall. Police represent about 1 out of 360 members of the
population, but commit 1 out of 12 of all killings in the
Even though the hysterically sensationalist media portrays crime as rampant, the truth is far different. In 14 of the past 15, years most citizens surveyed thought that crime was on the rise when the opposite was true. Actually, the homicide rate dropped in the 1990s to the level of today, the same as in the 1950s (4.5 per 100,000). In 1900, the homicide rate was 6 per 100,000 and 9 per 100,000 during prohibition.
So, police killings are not a defensive reaction to rising crime. But neither
is the recent drop in crime a reaction to the draconian crime-prevention
schemes of the last few decades (zero-tolerance, militarization, mass
incarceration). The Canadian criminal justice system experienced virtually the
same drop in crime without resorting to any of the medieval tactics served up
Thus, police violence is neither justified as a response to rising crime, nor a
cause of the drop in crime in the
The intensification of police repression is not inexplicable, but is coincident with political policy. The Johnson-era Omnibus crime bill of 1968 that expanded and funded policing, militarization, and surveillance, was clearly a reaction to the mass actions and insurrections of the 1960s.
Currently, police departments receive $1.6 billion per annum for military equipment from the Department of Homeland Security.
Swat teams - the special ops of the militarized police - now conduct 50,000 raids per year. As Glen Ford recently reported in Black Agenda Report, the Obama Administration has nearly tripled the annual direct military transfer of weaponry from the Pentagon to the police since 2010.
And to what purpose?
The militarization of the police in the US, a process that accelerated from the late 1960s to today, coincides with the intense concentration of wealth for the rich, the stagnation and deterioration of living standards for the rest, and the stripping of personal rights in the United States.
The authorities justify police aggression on the basis of contrived wars on crime, drugs, and terrorism. They stoke fears to rally support for the arming of the forces of counter-insurgency against an increasingly angry populace. Because of their historical militancy, African Americans have been subjected to the brunt of militarized police violence. The suppression of Black youth is the particular focus of law enforcement, a testament to the group’s revolutionary potential.
The devaluation of African American lives and their arbitrary murder are part of the ruling-class campaign to intimidate. The police are the agents of the campaign.
The 17th World Trade Union Congress hosted by the World Federation of Trade
Unions will take place from October 5-8 in
Preparations for this Congress have been underway for over a year, around the theme “Struggle – Internationalism – Unity! Forward for the attainment of the contemporary needs of the working class against poverty and wars generated by capitalist barbarism.”
As the Call to the 17th Congress says, “the World Federation of Trade Unions as well as the South African working class have struggled side by side from the very first moment against the racist apartheid regime, for a world without exploitation, for a socialist world, and continue till today the struggle for the defense of the workers and people’s rights.”
Putting the 17th Congress into a global context, the Call says this event takes place “at a time when the International Working Class is affected by:
- The International Capitalist Crisis: a crisis which intensifies the ruthless competition between the monopolies and forces the implementation of anti-labour and anti-people policies that seek to impose the burden of the crisis on the shoulders of the toiling masses. The labour, social and trade union rights are under attack. Privatizations flourish and unemployment is skyrocketing. The quality of life is degrading.
- The inter-imperialist contradictions that generate new wars and conflicts: For the control of natural resources, markets, roads for transport of goods and the control of new territories, the competition between the imperialist forces and their satellites is being intensified day after day generating new wars, conflicts and interventions in different countries.
- The reconstruction of the political sphere: The two main poles, the social-democrats and the neoconservatives, which are represented by new or older parties, are utilized by the capitalist system to transform the indignation of the masses against the anti-people policies into passive or active support for the policy of the ruling class.
- The struggle of the working class and the toiling masses worldwide: Struggles unfolded in all parts of the world during the past years. Many of them, great and heroic, had to deal with the brutal reaction of authorities and the capitalists who responded against the fair struggles with arrests, imprisonments of militants and even murder of trade unionists. The workers struggle against the anti-labour and neoliberal anti-people policies is the positive perspective that can open up new roads for the reconstruction of the trade union movement.
The working class needs stronger, more dynamic, more mass based, more class-oriented, trade union movement, Trade unions with deep and stable roots within the industries, within the multinationals and within all sectors, to defend its rights and demand “the attainment of its contemporary needs against poverty and wars generated by capitalist barbarism”. Move “Forward” with struggle, internationalism and unity.”
The agenda for delegates in
For more information, visit the WFTU website, www.wftucentral.org.
By Nino Pagliccia, September 22, 2016
It is still frequent to come across people who having heard about the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, believe that now it’s all back to normal and that the blockade of Cuba is over. Although the initial announcements of the reopening of relations by Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama were made on December 17, 2014, the blockade is still in full force.
In fact, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez stated at a Sept. 9 press
Here are some recent examples of the enforcement of the blockade by the
- On March 12, 2015 the German financial institution Commerzbank was fined about 1.7 million dollars.
- March 25, the
- In November 2015, four months after reopening respective embassies, OFAC imposed a fine of $1.1 billion on the French bank Crédit Agricole.
- On January 20, 2016, the
- In February, the French geological company CGG Service S.A. was fined $614,250.
- At the end of February, the Treasury Department fined the
Most damaging of course are transactions involving two strategic sectors: 1) food production and imports; and 2) manufacturing of pharmaceutical and biological products for the healthcare system.
Other impacts of the blockade involve difficulty by Cuban entities to carry out
normal services. This is the case of denial by the Spanish courier and postal
services TNT to mail an international parcel by the Cuban Embassy in
Paradoxically, Cuba-U.S. conversations continue. On September 12, the first
Bilateral Economic Dialogue took place in
In another apparent paradox, on September 14 President Barak Obama reauthorized
the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA). Established in 1917, in the middle of
World War One, this Act has been used as the basis for the Helms-Burton Act
that codifies the
Many supporters internationally have been in solidarity with
The report, titled “Necessity to End the Economic, Commercial and Financial
Blockade Imposed by the
With the apparent shift towards pro-U.S. right-wing governments in
In the meantime
 Full text in English can be downloaded from:
Gord Downie honours Chanie Wenjak
Tragically Hip singer and
lyricist Gord Downie will play two concerts this month in support of his Secret
Path project - a set of songs and a graphic novel honouring Chanie Wenjack, the
12-year-old Anishinaabe youth who died from hunger and exposure after escaping
from a residential school near Kenora, Ontario, fifty years ago. Downie, who
has terminal brain cancer, performed across
"We Are the Halluci Nation"
Since the release of their first album in 2012, Ottawa-based indigenous DJ trio A Tribe Called Red has been one of the most influential groups in Canadian music. Their third album, "We Are the Halluci Nation", was released last month. Ian "DJ NDN" Campeau, Tim "2oolman" Hill, and Bear Witness, pioneered a new genre, "powwow step", when they combined indigenous drum group samples with house music electronica. With "Halluci Nation", they venture into new territory. The powwow beat is still present, but it's overlaid with poly-rhythms. Rather than employing drum group samples, ATCR works with drum groups Black Bear, Northern Voice, and Chippewa Travellers. Indeed, they collaborate with a multitude of guest artists. While this can sometimes compromise a band's message, the contributions here succeed as part of a whole. The message is clear - indigenous peoples and their allies stand united in resistance to colonialism. Collaborators include the late poet John Trudell, hip-hop star Yasiin Bey, throat singer Tanya Tagaq, Colombian singer Lido Pimienta, hip-hop artist and broadcaster Shad, Iraqi-Canadian MC Narcy, Australian aboriginal band OKA, and Swedish-Sami singer Maxida Märak. Novelist Joseph Boyden dramatizes "Jack" - a character who telephones from an “Alien Nation correctional facility" with an urgent and inclusive message. Visit www.atribecalledred.com.
T.O. musicians fête Tony Quarrington
Tony Quarrington, composer,
guitarist, songwriter, vocalist, and producer, was honoured by his fellow
musicians on August 10th at
Fred Hellerman: 1927 - 2016
Folk-singer and composer Fred
Hellerman, the last surviving member of The Weavers, died on Sept. 8. He was
By Rob Gowland, The Guardian, weekly newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia
The recent floods in the
Science, however, suggests it has less to do with God than with climate change,
and climate change, as we now know, is caused at least partially by human
activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels, amongst other things. The
increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events is a recognised
consequence of climate change. And
According to Weather Underground meteorologists Jeff Masters and Bob Henson,
August was the wettest month in the
This flood may have been more severe than others, but it is by no means unique.
Near the beginning of the year another massive flood hit southern
“Those thousands in the Superdome after Katrina should be considered climate refugees. For this building now to house the auctions for drilling for more fossil fuels only adds insult to the injury,” said Antonia Juhasz, a journalist and energy analyst.
Amy Goodman, the host of the widely syndicated
Goodman herself points out that “While any one extreme weather event can’t be
directly attributed to climate change, storms, droughts, wildfires, floods and
hurricanes all are expected to become more frequent and more severe as the
planet warms. ... Rather than enabling more dangerous deep-water oil extraction
off the shores of the
Actually, President Obama has his hands full sanctioning assassinations,
approving drone strikes on Pakistani villages, arranging with the Pentagon for
the bombing of
“Shifting to renewable energy is essential. But this alone won’t avert climate disaster. Even if we stopped fossil fuel emissions this minute, it would take centuries to bring CO2 down to appropriate levels. ... Climate is too complex to be reduced to a single variable.
“Many ecological processes that influence climate reflect the movement and phase change of water. While carbon dioxide traps heat, water vapour acts as a conveyer of heat, retaining and releasing heat as it circulates. Consider transpiration, the upward movement of water through plants. This is a cooling mechanism, transforming solar radiation to latent heat embodied in water vapour. According to Czech botanist Jan Pokorny, each litre of water transpired converts 0.7 kilowatt-hours of solar energy, an amount comparable to the capacity of, say, a large room air conditioner.
“A single tree can transpire upwards of 100 litres of water in a day. That’s a lot of cooling power – not to mention the shade, the drawdown of carbon, and everything else a tree does for us.
“We may see a denuded landscape as a sign of climate change, but it’s also a cause. When we strip away vegetation, we lose the temperature modulation those plants provided. Sunlight beaming down becomes sensible heat – heat you can feel – as opposed to being captured and transformed by plants. Peter Andrews, an Australian maverick farmer and author, emphasises the extent to which plants direct and manage water. He adds: ‘Every time a plant manages water, it manages heat’. He estimates that a quarter of earth’s land has lost plant cover.
“The best tactic for reconciliation with nature is regenerating ecosystems.
What’s crucial is to know that it’s possible: we’ve grown so accustomed to
diminished landscapes we’ve lost sight of how lush they can be. ... From
“The strategy depends on the setting but may entail building carbon-rich, living soil; slowing the flow of water; promoting the growth of trees; and managing grazing animals in a way that restores land. In grassland regions, many of which are desertifying, ruminants like cows and sheep are managed to serve as a proxy for the vast animal herds that helped create and maintain these environments.
“Per the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), an intact forest is worth zero; its contribution to biodiversity, water regulation, area cooling and human wellbeing is treated as irrelevant. If someone takes a chainsaw to it, the sale of wood goes in the plus column. This is ‘growth’. At the very least, ‘externalised’ costs – with our lumber sale, this includes soil erosion, lowered water quality, loss of recreation – should be on the balance sheet.
“Filmmaker and researcher John D. Liu believes our economic structure needs
more fundamental change. In 1995 Liu filmed the rehabilitation of
“The route to climate equilibrium [is not] through technology alone – there are always unintended consequences – but in partnership with plants, animals and micro-organisms.”
Wise words to ponder over, but the solution Judith Schwartz posits is not at all an easy one. The problem is complex and so is the solution. The wholesale regenerating of ecosystems will require the reining in of capitalism’s unbridled quest for profits. This is more than just a subject for academic discussion, however. As Judith Schwartz observes, succinctly but tellingly, “time is running out”.