Friday, March 24, 2017

Niki Ashton is the leader the NDP and Canada needs

Guest Editorial by Robert McCarthy

My name is Robert McCarthy from Sudbury, Ontario and I am supporting Niki Ashton to become the next leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada. Like myself, Niki is a proud Democratic Socialist. She is the candidate that I most identify with. Her vision includes free tuition and student debt forgiveness, opposing pipelines where they infringe on Indigenous rights and endanger the environment, and the expansion of public healthcare to include dental care, pharmacare and access to mental health services for all Canadians. These policies are perfectly in line with what I believe.

I had the pleasure of meeting Niki in 2012 during her first run at the party leadership. The Sudbury NDP had hosted a debate for all the leadership candidates at the Steelworkers’ Hall. Before the debate officially started I had a few short minutes to talk to Niki and had my picture taken with her. Both during this meeting and during the debate she impressed me. She has strong conviction, unwavering principles, and the capacity to intelligently convey her beliefs. Niki is a great listener and takes the time to hear proposed solutions from ordinary Canadians to address the issues of the day. I knew Niki would be an important part of the NDP and Canadian politics for many years to come. Niki’s policies are a breath of fresh air. I believe Niki’s drive, determination, charisma, and all around ability, make her exactly the person we need to lead the NDP and Canada now and long into the future.

Robert McCarthy lives in Sudbury, Ontario and has been an NDP activist and the Disability Rights Representative on the Federal Sudbury NDP Executive since 2008.

Over the coming weeks The Left Chapter is interested in getting different perspectives on the NDP leadership race including from those both inside and outside of the party, from partisans of various candidates (perhaps explaining why), from critics of the race or those who think supporting any of them is perhaps a mistake, from those who would like to see a candidate who has yet to emerge, analysis of the candidates from an objective left perspective, etc.

If you have perspectives about the NDP leadership race specifically that you would like to share in blog/article/editorial form please contact us via

Do you have a left point-of-view or opinion, event or petition, a recipe or a story you want to share?

Send them to The Left Chapter via!

See also: The backlash against Niki Ashton from anti-Black Lives Matter commentators is what is really off base

See also: Niki Ashton launches her campaign from the left as NDP race heats up

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Saint Louis Cookbook with Catfish Creole, Chimi-Churri Oysters, Bourbon BBQ & more -- Vintage Cookbook TBT

Vintage Cookbook: The Saint Louis Cookbook (Bicentennial Issue)

Publication Details: Cookbook Collector's Library, 1964

The Saint Louis Cookbook is an example (and a very good one) of a whole sub-genre of cookbook that is centered around a city, state, town or province. These were especially popular in the mid-20th century and usually would combine recipes with some connection to the history and cuisine of the region with little bits of history, legend, etc.

In this case there are a lot of recipes and, despite the fact that the cookbook is from 1964, many of them are both really good and not as dated as one might expect -- something that is all too often the case of books from this era. At over 300 pages it is a substantial one with recipes divided into sections like Appetizers, Breads, Cookies, Meats, Soups, etc. Given that this is about St. Louis there is also a large section dedicated to BBQ and BBQ sauces.

It was issued for the bicentennial of the city and has various illustrations and photographs of city buildings and landmarks as well as many anecdotes in among the recipes, a fair number of which are -- needless to say with St. Louis' history of breweries -- related to beer!

Today we are looking at a relatively small sampling of the recipes (given the book's size) and I have included a number of BBQ ones, a beer cheese soup (of course) and could not resist a bourbon based recipe.

Also, Chimi-Churri Oysters because Chimi-Churri Oysters!

(Click on images to enlarge)

Editor's Notes: While not the same, there are a couple of things you can replace MSG with. Some sea salt, fish sauce or soy sauce if you like, or simply leave it out. Also, while the BBQ sauce here is pretty good, if you are going to make it in this quantity you should be sure to use properly sterilized jars to store any sauce for any length of time in a jar in your fridge.

Editor's Note: I would skip the meat tenderizer altogether and simply try to chose a roast that will turn out as you like it.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Labour and Struggle (1960) - Technology, Innovation, Art and Popular Resistance in Chinese History

Today we are taking a look at a fascinating and illuminating booklet published in the People's Republic of China in 1960. Labour and Struggle: Glimpses of Chinese History is a combination of social history, history of struggle and outline of China's remarkable technological innovation over the centuries, that is illustrated throughout with art and examples of inventions/aspects of daily life.

It places a strong emphasis on the oppression faced by Chinese peasants and labourers throughout the feudal period as well as on their resistance to it and the role that peasant revolts played in propelling social change.

It ends with a poem by Mao, but also includes a powerful and moving excerpt from a peasant folk song of revolt that is nearly eighteen hundred years old.

This song reflects the constant spirit of human defiance and struggle in the face of brutality and hardship:

Our hair is like the leek; cut it off, it grows still!
Our heads are like the chicken's; cut them off they sing still...
Have no fear of the officials.
Don't hold the people too cheap.
(click on images to enlarge)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Communist Iconography & Symbolism -- Stamps of the USSR III

Today we continue with our look at the stamps of the Soviet Union.

I have always been fascinated by stamps as what often amount to miniature works of art. They are posters on a very small scale.

While many countries have or had interesting stamps, the stamps of the former USSR are fascinating for their themes and their artistic style which ran along a couple of different lines.

Recently I came across a large collection of Soviet stamps from the 60s and 70s. Over the next few weeks we will take a look at some of the best of these. We already looked at a remarkable set of stamps related to the Soviet space program as well as a set dedicated to Marx, Engels, Lenin & Internationalism.

Here we are going to look at a set involving various iconography and symbols of the Soviet Union and communism more generally. It includes a stamp celebrating the memory of the Paris Commune on its 100th anniversary, a beautiful stamp of The Motherland Calls (the dramatic memorial on Mamayev Kurgan in honour of those who died at Stalingrad), some others with military themes, and many centered around the hammer and sickle symbol.

(Click on images to enlarge)