People’s Voice September 1-15, 2017

Volume 25 – Number 14   $1














13) MUSIC NOTES, by Wally Brooker



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


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(The following articles are from the September 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.)




Labour Day statement from the Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada


            This Labour Day 2017, is the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia. Against all odds, the Russian workers defended their socialist revolution against invasion, fascism and wars, at an enormous cost of 22 million Soviet lives. Their goal was to create a new workers' state in which the exploitation of one human being by another was abolished forever.  


            100 years later, the peoples of the world are once again facing war, racism, exploitation and fascism, while the USSR - a great counter-weight to US imperialism and global war - has been overthrown. The world has changed, but the struggle for peace, jobs, democracy, sovereignty and socialism remains the goal of millions of workers around the world.


            Today working people in Canada and around the globe are faced not only with the ongoing corporate assault against jobs and living standards, but with a US president willing to launch a nuclear war which could devastate humanity. It's time to unite and fight - for jobs, democracy, sovereignty and peace.


Say no to Trump! Get out of NAFTA!


           As we march in Labour Day parades, our sovereignty and independence are being sold out in the NAFTA talks. Contrary to what the Liberal government and Chrystia Freeland claim, these negotiations aim to open up Canada like a sardine can to US based transnationals that want to feast on energy and natural resources, including oil and gas, water, lumber, and much more. They want to scrap Chapter 19, which settles trade disputes among the NAFTA partners, while expanding Chapter 11, which gives corporations the power to sue governments over future lost profits. They want to allow US corporations to bid on healthcare and education services and delivery, which are all public in Canada today. They want to swallow our manufacturing jobs and repatriate the Big Three auto parts and assembly operations to the US, using rules of origin to send auto and manufacturing jobs south, where wages are much lower. They want to finish off our agriculture supply management system, which keeps farmers afloat by guaranteeing quotas and incomes – by allowing agribusiness to flood the market with US milk (laced with BGH), eggs, and poultry products. Leaving everything to “the free market” is precisely why US dairy farmers have huge surpluses, while the price of milk has dropped 40% since 2014. Why would Canada sign on to that?


            On top of all this, the US is demanding more access to the Canadian market through technology that allows on-line purchases of US goods and services virtually tax free, negatively affecting the Canadian economy and the pubic purse. Privacy rights protected under Canadian law are also on the chopping block in NAFTA renegotiations.


            There are no benefits for Canada. Working people, youth, women, the unemployed, will all be hit by these negotiations, just like they were by NAFTA in 1992 and the FTA in 1988. It was a bad deal then – it’s a worse deal now. No side deals can change that reality.


            Unfortunately, much of the leadership of the labour movement in Canada seems unwilling to grasp this danger, referring to the key issues as "irritants" in these talks, while the CLC participates in the government’s NAFTA Advisory Council. The CLC should pull out of the Advisory Council and instead demand that Trudeau PULL THE PLUG ON NAFTA now!  Out of NAFTA! 


            Instead of one-sided and detrimental “free” trade with the US, Canada needs mutually-beneficial, multi-lateral trade with the world that respects national sovereignty and independence.


Say yes to democracy! Defend workers’ rights and standards!


            Since Trump’s election, the attack on civil, social, labour, and democratic rights has escalated dramatically, especially in the US.  The gathering of racist and fascist forces in Charlottesville, and Trump’s defence of  the terrorist actions which left one dead and dozens wounded, is a clarion call to action for all those who recognize the threat that these forces represent.


            In Canada, xenophobic, racist and Islamophobic hate campaigns came into the open with the Harper Tories’ “Barbaric Cultural Practices Act and Snitch Line”. Similar legislation was introduced by the PQ government in Quebec under the claim of protecting  Quebec values”. Now the Liberals have put this back on the table with Bill 62.  The attacks escalated from hate messages and confrontations on city streets, to the murder of six Muslim men in a St. Foy mosque last February. Hate crimes have increased significantly in Canada, as the Conservative leadership candidates signalled that hate campaigns against Muslims, immigrants, Blacks, Jews and Indigenous Peoples are acceptable. Tory MPs in the Commons even voted en masse against M103, a motion directing the government to look into hate crimes including Islamophobia in Canada. Now, the anti-Muslim Bill 62 is back on the legislative agenda in Quebec, and the "World Coalition Against Islam" is promoting white supremacist hatred.


            Andrew Scheer, the new Conservative leader, has close ties with the far right, including (despite recent disavowals) Ezra Levant’s ultra-right Rebel Media. Tory MPs including Kelly Leitch and Chris Alexander have spoken at rallies organized by Rebel Media and other groups, to attack immigrants and racialized communities.


            Canada is at a watershed moment. Hate crimes must be prosecuted in the courts, and hate speech is also a criminal act when it advocates hatred and/or violence against identifiable groups based on religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, or place of origin.


            Mass protests and demonstrations are essential to send a strong message that the cancerous ideas spread by fascist, racist and white supremacist movements will not be tolerated. Working people have fought fascism in Canada before, from the battle of Christie Pitts in Toronto during the 1930s right up to the present. This struggle is needed today as well, to drive these rats back into the sewers.


            These movements have arisen again because of the crisis of capitalism and its inability to meet the needs of working people without curbing the power and the profits of the biggest corporations. Instead, reactionary governments have relied on policies of austerity, mass unemployment, war, and attacks on labour, civil and democratic rights to quash resistance and maintain the status quo.  This has created an opening for the rise of the ultra-right.  Racism, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, and anti-semitism aim to split and divide the working people and weaken their resistance when united action is essential and decisive. US imperialism, now openly aided and abetted by Canada, also has a wider militarist agenda. The labour and people's movements cannot sit on the sidelines as the US and its NATO allies, including Canada, relentlessly push to overthrow governments which resist their domination of the planet.


No to Trump’s war threats


            The "fire and fury" threat by President Trump against the DPRK (North Korea) is his latest tactic to demonstrate the ferocious power and global domination agenda of US imperialism. But any US attack on the DPRK would lead to the death of millions of Koreans. There is no such thing as a tactical nuclear war - such a US strike could potentially ignite a global conflagration.


            The South Korean government is pleading with the US to step back, stating that no-one has the authority to start a war on the Korean Peninsula without the agreement of the people who live there. Trump – and Trudeau – should listen. PM Trudeau and the labour and democratic movements must say NO! Instead of nuclear weapons, the Korean people and the peoples of the world need a political solution – and peace. This can be achieved, if US troops are withdrawn from the Peninsula, and joint manoeuvres by the US, Japan and South Korea to invade DPRK and overthrow its government are stopped now.


            Closer to home, where Venezuela sits atop the largest oil deposits in the world, the Trump administration is threatening to overthrow the elected government of Nicholas Maduro, who has full constitutional rights to convene a Constituent Assembly. Cuba is also in Trump's sights, just 90 miles from Miami. US military forces in and around Syria are also building up, even though the war against ISIS has largely been won by the Syrian government with Russian support.


            On a global scale, military spending (largely by the US) already consumes over a trillion dollars a year. Now, the Liberal government has promised a 70% increase in military spending, to meet the US demand that Canada vastly increase its NATO funding. This means deep cuts to social programs, and more undelivered Liberal promises to Indigenous Peoples, the unemployed, youth, women, and workers.


            Higher military spending also means more privatization of public services and assets like Canada Post, and higher user fees and prices. The conversion of civilian to military spending and the expansion of Canada's role in US dirty wars means that job creation will be tied to military industries and services, as they are in the US. The labour and peace forces must say NO to militarization of Canada's economy. This money must be invested in good jobs, higher wages and pensions, affordable housing, quality public healthcare and education. This includes environmental protection and sustainable development of natural and energy resources and industries, in the interests of working people from coast to coast to coast.


A People’s Coalition


            The Communist Party calls for a People’s Coalition that can unite all the forces fighting against austerity, war and the rise of the ultra-right, and for a people’s recovery from capitalist crisis. Working people need a strong and independent voice to defend their interests in the turbulent times ahead.  This cannot be contracted out to the NDP ,who are committed to put a human face on capitalism, or to the Liberals, the "friendly" face of capitalism. A People’s Coalition would be just that: a coalition of people’s organizations, labour, the Communist Party and others united around a common program and united action to secure those gains. This would enable a united struggle across Canada, moving from the defensive to the offensive – an objective whose time has surely arrived.    


            On this Labour Day, we call for mass united action to stop the drive to war and reaction, and to move labour onto the offensive, shoulder to shoulder with its social and political allies.


            United we stand – divided we fall!


            An injury to one is an injury to all!


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By Kimball Cariou, Vancouver


            An estimated five thousand people jammed the area around Vancouver City Hall on August 19, effectively preventing white supremacist and Nazi groups from going ahead with plans for a racist rally against Muslim-Canadians and other racialized communities.


            Initiated by an ad hoc group called Stand Up to Racism Metro Vancouver, the huge gathering came together in less than one week after the nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was organized in response to news that the “World Coalition Against Islam,” together with the Cultural Action Party (a registered BC party), the Soldiers of Odin and other nazi and white supremacist groups were planning to rally at City Hall, starting at 2 pm on August 19.


            While a number of fascists and Nazis did turn up, the anti-fascist rally had already brought together thousands of people, many arriving as early as noon. The nazi thugs spent their time circulating through the huge crowd, desperately trying to incite and then film  confrontations, with little success. Most anti-fascist protesters simply ignored these provocations, or surrounded the nazis to block them from spreading their hate speech.


            A contingent of members of the Communist Party of Canada and the Young Communist League repeatedly drew attention from fascists, who attempted to provoke an altercation. At one point, a handful of fascists unsuccessfully tried to intimidate a South Asian comrade, the organizer of the Party’s Upper Fraser Valley club, who was proudly carrying a Soviet flag. As many people pointed out through the afternoon, the hammer-and-sickle flag of the USSR was a vivid symbol of the fact that the Soviet Union, led by the Communist Party, played the leading role in smashing Hitler fascism during World War Two.


            Several nazis were escorted from the scene by Vancouver city police, but later in the afternoon, fascist thugs were outside a nearby SkyTrain station, hurling threats and insults at anti-fascists and people of colour as they headed home.


            The rally was supported byfrom B.C.’s new NDP Premier, John Horgan, and one of the speakers was Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. A wide range of politicians condemned the plans for a nazi rally, although the recently-defeated provincial Liberals had little to say.


            The rally began with an Indigenous welcome from members of the Musqueam Band, and heard from several other Indigenous speakers, including Ren Winona from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Bob Chamberlain of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, “Grandmother Buffalo” (an Idigenous elder from Chief Dan George’s family), and Indigenous rights and climate justice activist Eagle Eyes (Gordon August).


            Other speakers included Jessie Kaur (Kaur Project), Edward Liu (Richmond anti-racism activist), Haroon Khan (President of Pakistan Canada Association, and trustee of Al Jamia Masjid, BC's first mosque), NDP MLA Ravi Kahlon (who brought greetings from Premier Horgan), trans rights activist  Morgane Oger, Martha Roth (Independent Jewish Voices), a young Syrian refugee, Nour Youssef (student & Muslim social justice activist), Sejal Lal (SANSAD), Zara Liberte Aldunia (who worked with Nobel Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu), Harambecouver Parade organizer Kayode Fatoba, and Jean Swanson (anti-poverty and housing activist who is a candidate in the upcoming City Council byelection.


            Plans are being discussed to build the anti-fascist and anti-racist movement on a wider basis in the Vancouver area. Some trade unions provided important logistical support for the August 19 rally, and many local activists have stressed that labour involvement is key to creating a lasting coalition around these issues.


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This anonymous first-hand social media report from Charlottesville, Virginia, exposes the lie that “many sides” were responsible for the violence in that city.


            I rarely post politics or anything else on Facebook .... But let me be clear. I was acting as a medic in Charlottesville. "Both sides"-ing about it is absolutely unacceptable...


            In the run-up to that weekend, some local counter-protest organizers' families were forced to flee their homes because of violent threats. Some of them had "bodyguards" - friends escorting them everywhere they went that week, even to the grocery store, work, all the mundane places that people go in their normal lives.


            On Friday night, a torch-wielding mob chanting Nazi and other racist slogans (e.g. "blood and soil," "Jews will not replace us"), some doing Nazi salutes, surrounded, screamed "White lives matter" and "anti-white" at, a small group of college student counterprotesters who had linked arms around a statue and had a banner. They then threw fuel at them, beat them with lit torches, pepper-sprayed them, and punched them (including pepper-spraying a girl in a wheelchair).


            The police mostly stood by until the nazis were gone. A medic who was wearing a kippah (a Jewish skullcap) was followed in the dark by one of the nazis, and took it off after that so as not to be targeted. A university librarian who joined the students to try to protect them has now had a stroke. At some point that evening, the torch-wielders also surrounded a black church while chanting racist slogans. All of this not only hurt people that night but set expectations for how the white nationalists would behave the next day.


            On Saturday morning, a line of clergy, along with a gradually growing group of other protesters, showed up outside the nazi rally ...  facing militia movement members who were carrying assault rifles. There was shouting back and forth, and a small early fistfight where a nazi punched a nearby counter-protester who spilled coffee on him. Nazis were screaming anti-semitic things at rabbis in the clergy line, and chanting "blood and soil" in response to the clergy singing "This little light of mine."


            At one point, some clergy did a peaceful blockade of one of the park entrances, which was forcibly broken by an incoming white nationalist group with skulls painted on their shields. The heavy bidirectional fighting, though, mostly got going after a group of counter-protesters nonviolently blocked the way of an oncoming group of white nationalists, who broke through the blockade with clubs and heavy shields. Some people defended themselves as the white nationalists kept charging and swinging clubs. After that, there were fistfights and club-fights breaking out all around, nazis pepper-spraying and tear-gassing counter-protest crowds, plastic water bottles thrown in both directions. A nazi group that didn't know where the entrance to the park was added to the street fights. Some clergy ran to shield vulnerable people with their bodies, and those clergy were protected by antifa-associated counter-protesters - multiple clergy/theologians have said that they would have been "crushed" and maybe killed if antifa had not protected them. This went on for a long time. For most of this, the police stood around. Eventually, they cleared both sides out of the area.


            The town's synagogue is a short distance from the park. Throughout the day, nazis paraded by it doing the Nazi salute and shouting antisemitic slurs. The police had refused to provide a guard to the synagogue for some reason, so it had hired its own armed guard. There were threats of burning it down coming in. It had to cancel a havdalah service at a congregant's house that evening out of fear of attack.


            The march that was attacked with a car by James Fields was that afternoon. What street fighting had happened was long-since over by then. It was a happy march, it was not fighting anyone. The car attack came out of nowhere and the aftermath looked like a war zone. It hit the front of the march as the march was going around a corner, and many people weren't sure what had happened at first, people were screaming about a bomb. In addition to the woman who died, many people had serious injuries. A medic who was hit had to have emergency surgery to not lose her leg. A 13 year-old girl and her mom were among the injured. The street was covered in blood. The firefighters and paramedics were great. The police, on the other hand, rolled in an armored vehicle and threatened the crowd of survivors with a tear gas launcher. Police officers ordered the medics who were performing CPR on the woman who died to leave her and clear the area. They refused, and bystanders negotiated with the police to leave them alone.


            There were several other incidents throughout the afternoon where white nationalists/nazis/whatever were menacing small groups of wandering counter-protesters with their cars, swerving toward them on the sidewalk like they were going to hit them, that kind of thing... At one point my medic buddy and I were about 50 feet ahead of such a group and heard screeching car sounds and screams, and ran back, thinking for a second that there had been another terrorist attack and that this time we were the only medics on site, but fortunately it was just a scare - the driver then "rolled coal" (intentionally emitting a dark cloud of exhaust) at the people on the sidewalk before driving away. There was also an incident at some point where a young black man was badly beaten by white nationalists in a parking garage.


            There is no "both sides" here... There is no moral both sides because antifascists and nazis aren't morally the same, period. Disrupting nazis isn't the same as being one, period. But there was also no "both sides" even beyond that. Mutual street fighting primarily kicked off by an attack from the opposing side, doesn't compare to mowing people down with a car, to threatening a synagogue and a black church, to stalking someone for being visibly Jewish, to being part of a Nazi-slogan-screaming mob that surrounds and attacks peaceful college kids and could have easily killed one of them if the fuel thrown on a couple of them had been lit by one of the many thrown or swung torches...


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PV Ontario Bureau


            As the Ontario government continues to promote private sector development as the vehicle for housing construction, community activists are calling instead for a massive plan to build public affordable housing on the basis of need.


            In Brampton, on July 22, activists in the Housing for People campaign rallied outside the office of local Liberal MPP Harinder Malhi. Malhi has publicly trumpeted the Wynne government’s Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST), which imposes a 15% tax on non-Canadian citizens and non-permanent residents who purchase residential properties with one to six units. Introduced as a means for combating speculation, the NRST does nothing to address land speculation, which is based on commercial and large residential properties. For example, Malhi’s riding of Brampton-Springdale contains 3000 rental apartment building of five stories or more, none of which are subject to the terms of the NRST. On the other hand, nearly 13% of the residents in Brampton-Springdale are non-citizens, who are targeted by the 15% tax.


            All the NRST really amounts to is a populist nod to a racist narrative that “foreigners” are responsible for the high cost and low supply of housing in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area of Ontario.


            Housing for People rejects this tax, along with the government’s discredited policy that the private sector can provide affordable housing. Instead, the rally called for a massive provincial campaign to build 200,000 new affordable publicly-owned units, and to upgrade and maintain existing units. Speaker Dave McKee, leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario), told the rally, “Across Ontario, there are 725,000 households in core housing need – spending more than 30% of their income on housing that is crowded or in need of major repairs. The private sector has failed to provide housing for hundreds of thousands of working class people. We need to take the profit out of housing, recognize it as a human right, and treat it like a public utility that is provided on the basis of need.”


            The rally also addressed the issue of housing costs, which rose by 33% in the Greater Toronto Area last year to an average price of over $900,000. Rental costs have also risen at an alarming rate, to the point that a single bedroom apartment costs an average of $1200 in Brampton and $1800 in Toronto. Even units covered by provincial rent control legislation are subject to high increases, from landlords who use deferred maintenance costs as a Trojan Horse for above-guideline rent hikes.


            The Housing for People campaign is calling for rent rollbacks, combined with strong rent control legislation to make housing affordable. McKee noted, “If you have a person drowning in a swimming pool, the solution is not to stop adding more water but to get them out of the water. For the Liberals to talk about rent control now is too little, too late – tenants are drowning in unbearable rental costs and we have to roll those back now.”


            At the end of the rally, organizer Wilfred Szczesny read a statement that participants agreed to send to Malhi and all MPPs.


            For more information on the Housing for People campaign, visit


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Special to PV


            Tenants of Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood have won important concessions from their landlord, MetCap Living Management, after a  rent strike that began May 1.


            Rental units in twelve Parkdale buildings were badly in need of repairs, and tenants were hit with repeated rent hikes intended to force out low-income residents. Many tenants had withheld their rent payments in response.


            MetCap claimed that efforts were made to address tenant concerns at the buildings, including special hotlines to report repair issues. But tenants were not impressed, especially when MetCap applied in February to the Landlord and Tenant Board to raise rent 3 per cent above provincial guidelines, each year for three years, due to renovation costs.


            Parkdale Community Services said as many as 200 tenants of the 12 buildings withheld rent in May and up to 300 in June, an estimate based on public meetings and information from tenant representatives. There were also rallies and marches through Parkdale, the short-term shutdown of a hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board, and other tactics.


            “We won this strike because we refused to play by the rules,” said Bryan Daley, who lives at a seven-story building at 90 Jameson Ave., in the news release. “Parkdale came together as a community and organized to defend our homes and we came out on top.”


            The August 12 statement of the Rent Strikers’ Negotiating Committee reads:


            “Today we are pleased to announce that the Parkdale rent strike has ended in victory. The organizing of hundreds working class people in Parkdale, including us and our neighbours, has shifted the balance of power between landlords and tenants in Parkdale in our favour.


            “For the past six months we have organized our neighbourhood to take on our landlord directly. We know that the laws, courts, and bureaucracies of this system do not serve our interests and throughout this fight we would not be trapped in their dead ends. We refused to play by the rules. Instead we set up independent organizations in our buildings and linked those organizations up across Parkdale. Three hundred of us in 12 buildings went on rent strike and hundreds more of our neighbours joined our actions. What’s more, our organizing has built a new power in our neighbourhood, a power which is based in our own capacities as working class people.


            “We have won the following concessions from our landlord:


- A substantial reduction in the above guideline rent increases at each building


- A program of additional rent relief for tenants in financial hardship


- A program of maintenance and repair work in each building 


            “Our rent strike won because it expressed the collective strength of working class people in Parkdale. Yet we feel we have only made a beginning. We will continue to organize in our buildings. We will reach out to neighbours facing rent increases in other buildings throughout the neighbourhood. We are prepared to take up the struggles of all working class people in our neighbourhood whether around housing, education, employment, or any other area of our lives. By continuing to organize, we will become stronger and build our power in Parkdale.


            “We would like to thank everyone who supported us in this fight. Moreover we urge you to organize and build power in your own neighbourhoods. There is no limit on what we as working class people can accomplish when we organize together in our own interests.”


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People’s Voice Editorial


            In the wake of fascist terror in Charlottesville, the response has been a storm of public condemnation against attempts to mainstream Nazi and racist ideologies. Far-right politicians on both sides of the border have fanned the flames of bigotry, hoping to benefit by energizing the modern day apologists for the African slave trade and the genocidal destruction of Indigenous peoples. Donald Trump relied heavily on white supremacist forces to win the White House, despite losing the popular vote. Here in Canada, several Conservative leadership contenders, including the new leader Andrew Scheer, have used similar tactics. These Tories are closely connected with Rebel Media founder Ezra Levant, who launched his project as a platform for a sickening collection of Nazis, racists, anti-Muslim bigots, and anti-Jewish thugs who either deny or celebrate Hitler's death camps.


            None of this should surprise any observer. Anti-racist and anti-fascist groups - including this newspaper - have warned for years about the activities of the pro-Hitler scum who incite violence. Unfortunately, most elected political leaders, the corporate media and the police insist that "both left and right extremists" are the problem, justifying moves to suppress and marginalize radical and socialist movements - but rarely fascist groups. Sounds like Trump's line? Exactly.


            The huge anti-nazi rallies in Boston and Vancouver on August 19 show that the basis is emerging for truly broad, mass coalitions, including trade unions, Indigenous peoples, and other racialized communities. Such coalitions must work to block fascism and racism, not through street confrontations, but by building a powerful public consensus that advocacy of such ideas is not acceptable, and by compelling governments and the courts to lay criminal charges against those who spread hate speech. The labour movement has a moral responsibility to take a leading role in this process - we urge every effort to help make this happen.


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People’s Voice Editorial


            The months leading up to Labour Day brought terrifying news about the increasing danger of war and militarism. The world’s attention has been focused on the Korean Peninsula and the wider East Asia region, and Donald Trump’s bombastic warnings that the US military is “locked and loaded” and prepared to rain “fire and fury” on the DPRK (North Korea). Not surprisingly, as a country which suffered millions of casualties in the US invasion of 1950-53, the DPRK considers its arsenal as the only meaningful form of deterrence against such an attack. Many global voices are calling for a negotiated solution to this crisis, including de-nuclearization of the entire region, a peace deal to finally end the Korean War, and removal of US troops from South Korea.


            Not satisfied with its threat to destroy the DPRK, US imperialism continues to ramp up other preparations for aggression. This includes Venezuela, where democratically-elected President Maduro faces Washington’s anger for convening a National Constituent Assembly, under the provisions of the country’s constitution. Most recently, Trump has dropped his campaign rhetoric about pulling out of the Afghanistan quagmire, announcing that 4,000 more troops will be sent to bolster the US occupation. The sovereign government of Syria also remains in the cross-hairs of Washington.


            Amidst this war-making, the terrible cost of global militarism remains  unchanged. The world now wastes over a trillion dollars a year on preparing for and conducting wars, and the US is responsible for the majority of this spending. The working class must address this issue, particularly in countries like Canada, where official trade union participation in the peace movement is virtually non-existent. Peace is not just a dream, it is at the heart of the working class struggle for a better world. This Labour Day, we urge the labour movement to put peace back on the agenda!


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By Rob Gowland, The Guardian (Australia)


            Time was, if you felt strongly about some issue and wanted to make your views known to other people you had to type up a stencil and run off copies on a roneo-machine or pay someone with access to a printing press to print your views as a flyer to be handed out to people you hoped to influence.


            But that was then. Today, you simply post your views on Facebook or Twitter from the comfort of your computer at home and you can reach vast numbers at insignificant expense. However, just because a person knows how to talk doesn’t mean they have anything to say that is worth hearing.


            In fact, it might well be that, depending on their education, background, personal prejudices and similar influences, what they have to say is nothing more than a vicious, hate-filled tirade pandering to ignorance and fear. Just look at the utterances of almost any federal government back-bencher or the notorious Tweets of US President Donald Trump.


            Or consider the phenomenon of cyber bullying, where the anonymity of modern technology platforms allows cowardly attacks on individuals to be perpetrated publicly with impunity. Clearly, technology alone is not enough. It must be accompanied by the simultaneous development of society to replace fear and suspicion with co-operation and friendship. That seismic shift in social relations comes – over time – with, and only with, the establishment of socialism.


            Witness the experience of the people of the USSR or the GDR. Even the restoration of capitalism has not been able to wholly eradicate the lessons learned while living in a socialist society.


            Capitalism, which is devoted to benefitting the individual at the expense of others, breeds fear and jealousy, hostility and hatred. People live in fear that what little they have may be taken away from them by business chicanery or ill health or government fiat. In fact, capitalism not only encourages – it positively revels in – greed and self-interest. Ignorance is its handmaiden and also one of its more powerful weapons. When that is combined with the powerlessness and frustration that is the unfortunate lot of ordinary people under capitalism, it is hardly surprising that so many are sucked in to giving credence to those who blame the ills of the system on racial or religious differences.


            Those who are visibly “different” make a very convenient target for right-wing rabble rousers to point to in their efforts to divert popular attention away from real issues like de-industrialisation by capitalists whose pursuit of greater profits means they happily close down entire industries, throw whole cities out of work, while they shift production to low wage countries where they can extract greater surplus value from making the same object.


            Hitler is usually held up as the epitome of the “hate-speech” maker, but there were and are many others. Anti-Semitism did not originate with Hitler. It was widespread among the upper classes in Britain and France in the 19th century. In Tsarist Russia there were frequent deadly pogroms against the Jews. It is no accident that so many of the immigrants who sought refuge in the USA before the First World War were Jewish.


            After WW1, Clerical-Fascist Hungary continued the practice of using the Jewish minority as a scapegoat for the economic and social ills besetting society. Hitler merely adopted a tactic already tested elsewhere.


            Capitalists have a permanent problem: if they come clean and admit to the people that as a system Capitalism exhausted its progressive phase (when it was taking over from feudalism) a couple of hundred years ago and that since then it has been nothing more than a drag on human progress, they are unlikely to emerge well from the ensuing bunfight. So instead they lie.


            And finding scapegoats is still their preferred type of lie. You can sympathise in a way with bourgeois politicians: beating the racist drum or the anti-Muslim drum is a much easier thing to do than to try to analyse and explain to people the complexities of modern capitalist society. Especially when, if you did explain it, you would be the one who would come out with egg – or worse – all over your face!


            So right-wingers spend a lot of their time (and money, let’s not forget that vital ingredient) fostering, feeding, financing and generally promoting that most useful diversionary tool, racism. Laws intended to safeguard people from racist abuse are howled down as limiting “free speech”, as somehow curbing democracy itself.


            In Germany recently, Facebook informed the government that it is deleting about 15,000 posts every month because they breech the company’s guidelines on “hate speech”. Worldwide, according to vice president Richard Allan, Facebook deleted about 66,000 posts per week, over the last two months, for the same reason.


            Free speech, like everything else, is a class question. Workers have a right – and a necessity – to be able to criticise capitalist (i.e. anti-worker) governments. Capitalists do not have a “right” to try to destabilise and overthrow a pro-worker government. Nor do they have a right to own all the daily newspapers and the TV and radio stations with which to propagandise their destabilisation message. If that seems unfair, it is because you are looking at it from the class standpoint of the bosses.


            Try putting yourself in the position of the exploited workers. The reasoning becomes simple: if it is in the interests of the workers it is good, and is it is against their interests it is bad. “Simples!”, to borrow a slogan from those capitalist ads featuring a meerkat.


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Statement of the World Peace Council on the recent resolution of the UN Security Council on the DPR of Korea


            The World Peace Council (WPC) expresses its serious concern about the recent resolution of the UN Security Council on the 5th of August (2371/2017) to impose new sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its people.


            The WPC stands firm in solidarity with the Korean people for its right to decide alone and without any foreign interference its fortunes and future, while we reject and denounce the threats by the US administration and its allies in the region against the sovereignty of the DPR of Korea. We condemn the increasing military exercises of the USA, South Korea and Japan in the area as well as the military presence of more than 28,000 US troops in the South of the Korean peninsula. The deployment of the US missile defense shield THAAD in South Korea constitutes a further escalation of the strategy of threats, aiming at the ability for first strike without the possibility for retaliation.


            The WPC is in favor of the abolition of all nuclear weapons in the world but we do not accept the one-sided eclectically applied propaganda against the “nuclear program” of the DPR Korea. At the same time we support and demand the peaceful settlement of the differences between the USA and DPR of Korea and the replacement of the armistice agreement of 1953 with a comprehensive peace accord of the two sides.


            We are historically opposed to the singling out the DPR of Korea with further sanctions that serve to hurt the people and are in reality a form of aggression or preparation for a military intervention as in the cases of Iraq and Libya before.


            The legitimate concerns of the DPR of Korea cannot be met by sanctions and threats, by efforts to strangle a people in order to impose the geostrategic control of the imperialist domination, which functions as the real threat to peace and stability in the region. We remind especially these days that not only is the USA the only country which used nuclear bombs 72 years ago in its crime in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but it refuses to refrain even today from a first nuclear strike option.


            The WPC reaffirms its support to the Korean people’s struggle against the imperialist plans, the defense of its sovereignty, for the demilitarization and nuclear disarmament of the region and the independent and peaceful reunification of Korea.


            The United Nations should respect and safeguard the principles of its founding Charter and not violate them!


            -  WPC Secretariat, August 9, 2017


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By Earl Bousquet,


            Venezuela is most likely headed for the U.N. Security Council’s agenda as the White House seeks to ratchet-up global action.


            Having failed to excite or influence Latin American and Caribbean neighbors to gang-up collectively against Caracas, Washington is now placing its bets on mobilizing international action through the United Nations ahead of very possibly marching U.S. troops into Venezuela.


            Following the success of previous military invasions with ‘Urgent Fury’ in Grenada in 1983 and “Desert Storm” in Iraq, persistent efforts in recent years to get the Organization of American States, OAS, to join in a U.S.-led invasion march against founder-member Venezuela have failed.


            Since the advent of former President Hugo Chavez and his “Bolivarian Socialism” declarations and policy initiatives in 1998, successive administrations led by his United Socialist Party of Venezuela, PSUV, have come under continuing pressure from Washington.


            Successive U.S. ambassadors in Caracas have openly supported anti-Chavez and now anti-President Nicolas Maduro policies while embracing the opposition and supporting their actions with both material assistance and political and economic sanctions against the PSUV governments.


            Badly burnt over Grenada and Iraq, Latin American and Caribbean nations, as well as other similar groupings of developing states worldwide, have been very cautious about quickly, overly and overtly supporting direct U.S. intervention in countries.


            The mainly English-speaking Caribbean Community, Caricom, has repeatedly expressed its opposition to foreign intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs and support for a peaceful, political solution to the country’s problems.


            The smaller Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, OECS, has also supported a peaceful, negotiated solution.


            At the wider regional level, while the Mercosur group has shut its doors on Caracas, the majority of Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, ALBA, and PetroCaribe member-states support Venezuela’s right to determine its internal affairs without outside intrusion.


            The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC, and the Association of Caribbean States, ACS, have not yet become major players in the current dispute, but when they eventually do, there is no doubt they will also oppose external intervention.


            Having failed to stop the peaceful and credible election of the National Constituent Assembly, NCA, on July 30, Washington has now declared it an exercise to lead Venezuela on “a path of dictatorship,” according to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in neighboring Colombia last weekend.


            Rejecting the transparent vote for the ANC by over 40 percent of the electorate — a greater comparative amount of voters than in any recent U.S. presidential or legislative elections — Washington opted to criminalize the ANC and punish people and entities doing business with it.


            Now, having recently persuaded Peru to lead Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and others to take separate unilateral punitive action against Venezuela over the ANC, Washington’s next stop is the U.N., where the annual General Assembly starts in September.


            Along with North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK, Venezuela is most likely headed for the U.N. Security Council’s agenda as the U.S. State Department and the White House seek to ratchet-up global action in reaction to recent developments in Venezuela along lines dictated in and by Washington.


            Already, a very questionable “Human Rights” report associated with a U.N. department (and done from abroad by “remote” means) has surfaced, which piles fault for the unfortunate deaths in Venezuela on the nation’s security forces, while patently ignoring opposition excesses.


            Washington has turned down all of Maduro’s direct appeals for talks, instead all but confirming that plans are underway to land U.S. troops in Venezuela in pursuit of U.S. foreign policy.


            Former Republican presidents — from Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to the two Bushes — have repeatedly demonstrated the party’s willingness and ability, in office, to wring the arms and spin the heads of allies to support U.S. plans and actions, to engage in military incursions against other countries. U.S. President Donald Trump is showing no difference.


            When Reagan dispatched U.S. troops to Grenada in 1983, he informed neither Queen Elizabeth of England nor Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Nor was the U.S. Congress informed until after the war ships and planes were already under way.


            The later success by former President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to mislead the world, at the U.N., to go on a costly wild-goose chase for weapons of mass destruction they knew former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein did not have, was no less of a hijacking of the international body to pursue the political objectives of one nation, backed by powerful others.


            Under current circumstances, the international situation is too fragile for the world to allow Trump to deflect and divert attention from his numerous internal crises at home. His threats against Pyongyang can more harm than help the situation of millions of citizens and U.S. troops in the Korean Peninsula and nearby.


            Trump’s threats against Venezuela, however, have to be seen in his emphasis on how small and close Venezuela is, within the context of rapid deployment of U.S. troops.


            The U.S. Commander in Chief might very well believe that threats of punitive military action  against Venezuela, backed by political and economic sanctions, is the best way to pressure U.N. member-nations into supporting U.S. plans for regime change in a country where both the targeted President and the ANC were legitimately, legally and constitutionally elected.


            Taking the Venezuela issue to the U.N. is yet another effort by Washington to quickly gather unavailable numbers to support its intervention plans against Caracas.


            Historically, except in earlier circumstances, the OAS has tended not to too openly or quickly support U.S. military intervention in Latin American and Caribbean nations south of the U.S. border.


            This time around, under Trump — and in relation to both Venezuela and the DPRK — Washington has signaling that it is prepared to go it alone, at least against Venezuela, if it fails to get regional fig leaf cover like it did against Grenada.


            The recent meeting of 17 OAS member-states in Peru, which was attended by only two Caricom member-states (Guyana and Jamaica) was a bonsai model of the ongoing and wider anti-Venezuela plot that has been failing at the OAS since April 1.


            Pence’s Latin American regional tour was undoubtedly aimed at drumming-up regional support for opposition to Maduro, the PSUV and the ANC.


            The ACS, Celac, Caricom, OECS, PetroCaribe and ALBA nations will, between now and the start of the U.N. General Assembly sessions in New York, be heavily lobbied to support the U.S. positions against both Venezuela and the DPRK.


            They will not be able to dissuade Washington from pursuing the dictates of the U.S. president, but they certainly can once again reiterate their earlier-expressed principled opposition to external intervention in internal affairs of states.


            The U.N. and OAS charters specifically outlaw uninvited or unapproved military intervention in member-states.


            Washington has historically been able to twist the language of related resolutions at regional and international bodies to allow it the leeway to intervene militarily, if only in the usual pursuit of “U.S. economic interests” or “security of US citizens.”


            It is now time for all Latin American and Caribbean nations — and their respective regional bodies — to network with like-minded entities around the globe, to sound U.N. nations’ delegations ahead of time about the perilous implications for democracy, peace and regional stability at stake in any new military invasion in the region, under whatever guise and by whatever name.


            (Earl Bousquet is a Saint Lucia-based veteran Caribbean journalist.)


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PV Vancouver Bureau


            Tensions between South Africa’s ruling alliance partners continue to sharpen over the growing calls for President Jacob Zuma to resign. On August 16, the governing African National Congress attacked the South African Communist Party, after the SACP complained of a “witch-hunt” against rebel MPs. In the strongest criticism of its alliance partner to date, the ANC slammed what it called the “extremely ill-advised and gravely unfortunate statement” issued earlier that day by the SACP.


            Zuma survived an opposition no-confidence vote in Parliament on August 8. But while the SACP urged MPs to vote against the motion, it has also called on the President to resign, or else for the ANC to recall him over his corrupt links to the billionaire Gupta family which exercises immense political influence over the government and the state apparatus. The Party has also taken part in protests for Zuma’s resignation, in the wake of the President’s firing of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last March.


            In the wake of the parliamentary vote, the ANC has moved to discipline MPs who have admitted voting with the opposition. The SACP calls these measures a “myopic campaign clothed in the name of discipline” and in pursuit of a “factionally charged agenda.”


            The statement which drew the ANC leadership’s anger says, “The South African Communist Party rejects a witch-hunt against MPs. The myopic campaign clothed in the name of discipline is nothing but a factionally-charged agenda. Revolutionary discipline is consistent. It would have long ago decisively acted against the rot of corporate capture of the state and sections of our movement and its leaders. Revolutionary discipline would have long ago acted without fear, favour or prejudice against corruption. It would have long ago acted against deployed office bearers, including President Zuma for making decisions without consultation. Such poorly considered decisions, taken in violation of the democratic, revolutionary discipline of our movement, plunged our country into a financial crisis.


            “Our country has lost a massive amount of capital due to widespread governance decay and siphoning of public money through illicit tenders and tender practices, corruption and maladministration. This is the money South Africa direly needs to uplift the quality of life of the workers and the poor and deepen democratic transformation and national development.


            “The SACP has nothing in common with credit rating agencies. But as the Party we are not oblivious to the deleterious consequences of their downgrading decisions. Our country should not be pushed into such decisions the way President Zuma has recklessly done and without being held accountable. For example other ANC officials did acknowledge after the last cabinet reshuffle that the President acted unilaterally from elsewhere, that is outside our shared revolutionary discipline, Luthuli House and the Alliance as a strategic political centre that must guide the conduct of the ANC-led-alliance government.


            “Our country was plunged into recession. The cost of borrowing has shot sky-high. National debt has become worse. Inequality, unemployment and poverty remain persistently high. Meanwhile the President`s friends, the Guptas are smiling all the way to the bank and Dubai because of their proximity to his person. One of them has become South Africa`s top black billionaire. It is inconceivable that this happened without the relationship, and associated with it, funds from developmental finance institutions of the state, tenders from state owned entities and decisions made in government and the public sector by the Gupta-captured network of officials, public office bearers and executives.


            “All other discipline that turns a blind eye to these glaring realities is nothing but factional discipline! All other democratic centralism that does not act against the rot is nothing but factional centralism!


            “The SACP reiterates its call that President Zuma must resign, failing which the ANC must recall him. Holding the President accountable will show that the ANC is consistent on discipline. The recall of the President alone will not solve the many systemic and structural problems facing our movement and country, but it will go a long way in building the basis for solving the problems associated with his failed leadership.”


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Abridged from Labour Today


            Following the events in Charlottesville, the San Francisco International Longshore Workers Union, Local 10 passed a motion to stop work on August 26th in protest against the Nazis and the Klan. The resolution states in part: "Whereas, the Klan, Nazis and other racist terrorists represent a deadly threat to African Americans, Latinos, and immigrants, as well as Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ people among many others, and directly to our union and the labor movement as a whole..."

            The full resolution can be found on the ILWU website.


            Other unions representing health care, teachers, and public service workers have condemned the fascist and racist violence. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) implored their members and Locals to take part in protests around the country.


            In a press release, AFT President Randi Weingarten said: "This type of domestic terrorism has pilloried communities of color, Jews and other marginalized groups throughout history... Friday's torch-light march showed white supremacists are so emboldened that they don't even feel the need to wear hoods. The violence directed at counter-protestors was meant to instill fear in the hearts of people who are fighting for a more inclusive [ U.S.] .... This is a significant moment and we must act now".


            The Service Employees International Union, representing nearly 2 million members, largely minorities and people of colour,  issued the following statement from President Mary Kay Henry: "This tragedy is a reminder that as a nation, we have to address the long legacy of racism and slavery that is deeply embedded in our history and experienced in our present day. We cannot be silent and must speak out against the violence and intimidation we have seen in Charlottesville and far to many other cities. Working people must, and we will join together and organize our communities to eliminate racism at all levels and create a world where everyone, no matter what their color of their skin, can participate, prosper and reach our full potential."


            AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) also condemned the Nazi white nationalists. President Lee Saunders and Sec.-Treas. Elissa McBride said, “Now is a moment for all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and inclusion to stand up and speak out.”


            Taking aim at President Trump, who basically gave a "dog-whistle", if not outright support to the fascists, the Executive Director of National Nurses United, Rose Ann DeMoro, decried what she called an “inadequate response” by the President in characterizing the appalling scene in Charlottesville as result of "violence on many sides.”


            The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), one of the most militant left-wing unions in the country, was more direct in its statement: "Trump/s failure to call out neo-Nazi's and other bigots is not surprising. Some of the supremacists even chanted "Heil Trump". and "Trump's campaign of hate against non-whites, threats to punch opponents in the face, and his plan to deport immigrants and build walls embolden the very forces which were unleashed on Charlottesville".


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13) MUSIC NOTES, by Wally Brooker


Waters defends BDS on "US-Them" tour


English rock-star Roger Waters is a longtime supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the government of Israel. His latest intervention was in mid-July, when he denounced the decision of U.K. band Radiohead  to perform in Tel Aviv. Waters's resolute pro-BDS stance has prompted some Israel supporters to threaten legal action against New York's Nassau Coliseum, which has booked him for two September shows. The co-founder of Pink Floyd is in the midst of a five-month North American tour, dubbed "Us-Them". It includes a series of Canadian dates: Toronto (October 2-3), Quebec (October 6), Ottawa (October 10), Montreal (October 16), Edmonton (October 24), and Vancouver (October 28). The "Us-Them" show features animated images of Donald Trump during the performance of Pink Floyd's 1977 song "Pigs (Three Different Ones)". The cartoon image vomits and transforms into Adolf Hitler giving a Nazi salute, beneath which projections of Trump's misogynist and racist statements appear. Elsewhere in the show, a 20-foot-long, graffiti-covered helium pig, displaying the President's face on its side, floats slowly through the crowd. Check out the video from Waters's recent outdoor concert in Mexico City.


Mulligan's quest for "protest songs"


There are lots of protest songs being written in Canada these days, but how many are being recorded and disseminated through mass media? West Coast radio personality Terry David Mulligan asked questions about protest music to a mostly-Canadian group of musicians on his July 8 show,"Mulligan Stew" (accessible on Soundcloud). Canadian musicians interviewed included Stephen Fearing, Colin Linden, Joel Plaskett, and Ron Sexsmith. Several of their recordings were played. Fearing's single, "Blowhard Nation", is inspired by his outrage over the election of Trump. Likewise, Plaskett's song, "Blank Cheque", from the album Solidarity, was inspired by watching U.S. election results last November. But, in contrast to Fearing's song, "Blank Cheque" is grounded in everyday images of resistance in Halifax. Sexsmith, a fine songwriter, confesses that he finds it hard to write political songs, but he's hoping for a resistance that's "beyond liberal and conservative". Fearing and Linden then advise listeners that the job of musicians is to inspire people to realize that they have "the power to love". Mulligan, taking their cue, plays "Let's Frolic", a good-time song they recorded with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. These are excellent songs, however thin they stretch one's definition of protest. The problem is that Mulligan focuses exclusively on Trump, to the exclusion of the reactionary two-party plutocracy that governs the U.S.  And he's silent about conditions in Canada that might provoke people to write protest songs. 


Save Bristol Bay songwriting contest


Undaunted by the wave of corporate greed and ignorance emanating from Washington, Alaska's "Save Bristol Bay" coalition fights on. It's more determined than ever to protect the region's salmon, wildlife, and people from the threat of the proposed Pebble gold and copper mine, whose owners seek to lift environmental protections in a highly ecologically sensitive area. An important part of that struggle is Musicians United to Protect Bristol Bay (MUPBB), founded in 2014 , and inspired by the outstanding activist musician and educator Si Kahn. Last month, MUPBB announced the winners of its international songwriting contest. Friends of Bristol Bay are invited to visit MUPBB's website and explore the 90 original songs that were submitted. Recordings are available for purchase, including songs by contest winners Bonnie Nichols ("Little Pebbles") and Susan Shann ("Price on Heaven"). There's lots more, including songs by artists whose names readers may have noticed in this column over the years, like Si Kahn, Tret Fure, Tom Chapin, and David Rovics. Singer-activists can help the struggle by picking a favorite and including it in their repertoire. Visit:


Neil Young's Fourth of July


Canadian rocker Neil Young chose the Fourth of July to release "Children of Destiny", an alternative song for the U.S. Independence Day, recorded with rock band Promise of the Real plus a 56-piece orchestra.  As of early August, it had reached a million views on YouTube.  "Children of Destiny" calls upon Americans to resist the anti-democratic winds blowing across the country. The video's mixed bag of images includes: patriotic scenes (4th of July barbecues and children waving the Stars and Stripes); a black and white flag that combines the well-known peace emblem with indigenous symbols; majestic mountains; video clips of peace, climate, and women's rights demonstrations; images of refugees and child victims of bombing campaigns; waving wheat fields; and finally, schools of fish. Ya gotta love it! In a Fourth of July message accompanying the video Young writes: "Resist those who lash out against our positive message with violence, name-calling and negativity. We are concerned for our democracy, environment, and freedom. Nothing will ever stop us from standing up." Check it out on YouTube, as well as a fascinating video of the recording session.


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