Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Economy, Neoliberal Style



"Actually, our model works much better if we leave the people out altogether" 

(Click on image to enlarge)

Source: Focus Newsletter, June 1996



Monday, March 27, 2017

NDP's second debate a more lively affair with stronger performances

The second debate in the NDP's leadership campaign was, thankfully, a more spirited affair than the first one, although it really had nowhere to go but up.

While the format was still constricting and many of the questions tended towards issues on which all of the candidates would largely agree, in this instance they far more clearly strove to differentiate themselves from each other. All were also significantly stronger in their delivery.

This debate, held in Montreal, was intended to be centered around youth issues and was for the most part successful in this. There was a lot of discussion around student debt, precarious work, social movements and issues likely perceived as being of greater significance to younger New Democrats and voters such as the legalization of marijuana (although how accurate this assumption is could be open to some debate as well).

On that issue there was little discord with every candidate supporting the liberalization of laws and decrying the lack of movement to date on the part of the Trudeau government on its election promises. Guy Caron still managed to play the policy wonk stiff by emphasizing the economic benefits of ending prohibition while Charlie Angus likely scored some points with his more lighthearted and humorous comments about having been in a band and the clouds of smoke that were evidently a regular feature of that.

But while some obvious and predictable areas of concurrence remained, the constant attempts to pat each other on the back and to be the first to say how much they agreed with everyone else that ran through the previous engagement were, mercifully, dispensed with.

On taxation they all seemed rather muddled with musings about lowering the small business tax rate (not a good idea), raising corporate taxes (far less effective on its own than many social democrats seem to think) and that old catchall of "closing loopholes". But not a single one of them touched on the idea of raising personal income taxes even on the wealthy. This is a serious oversight that deeply undermines any commitment to fighting the growth in inequality which has been directly fueled by a generation of personal income tax cuts that have overwhelmingly benefited the well-to-do the most.

In some areas clear battlelines are being drawn. The most obvious of these is on pipelines. In the section of the debate centered around climate change Peter Julian, as he has from the start, took a clear stance against them while Niki Ashton strengthened her line and seemed to essentially rule out new pipelines as well. Angus used the climate change section to praise the NDP Notley Alberta government's record (without, of course, pointing out Notley's very harmonious relationship with Justin Trudeau on pipelines) which would seem to indicate, as he has previously, that he is staking out the most pro-Alberta, pro-pipeline, pro-resource economy position. Caron, meanwhile, had one of the more unexpected ideas of the afternoon when proposing that the government possibly get into the business of developing electric cars.

Caron, oddly, seemed often to lack policy depth as when he kept hearkening back to his universal basic income proposal as some kind of panacea even when this was silly or fanciful. Caron's notion that a basic income would help young people to seriously confront student debt loads or with housing issues is a real stretch. A basic waged income certainly does not do that for working people now and basic income schemes are not a substitute for debt relief or a plan to eliminate tuition fees.

Angus came out more forcefully than in the first debate and remained so throughout. He has recently pledged to make First Nations issues central to his campaign and was at his best when hammering at the Trudeau government for having not just failed to live up to their promises to First Nations but for continuing with corporate giveaways while young people in First Nations communities face severe systemic injustices. When he spoke of how the NDP's role was not to be the conscience of the Liberals but rather to win power to deliver a government that would have the people's "back" it was almost stirring.

Overall though Angus continues to appear to be depending on his personality and the notion among many that he is a fighter to pull him through. How long he can bank on this without a coherent overarching narrative to his campaign remains to be seen, and he did have some notably weak moments such as when the debate turned to deficits and stimulus spending and in his odd answer on electoral reform.

Julian was something of a surprise and adopted a tone notably more to the left than he has in the past. His opening and closing statements were well delivered as was his call for the NDP to be a clear and bold left alternative and movement. This rhetorical shift may reflect a sense that, given his pipeline stance, his campaign feels it may be competing more for the votes of those who might be inclined to support Ashton (or Sid Ryan) than was originally anticipated.

Ahston delivered an all round solid performance both within the terms of the debate and in keeping to her message. She spoke of how this generation of youth is the first that risks being worse off than their parents and of the importance of turning the tide on neo-liberalism by fighting against privatization and for an expansion of social programs in areas like pharmacare and dental care.

When the question turned to social movements like Idle No More and Black Lives Matter Ashton talked of the need for genuine engagement, solidarity and respect and, again, of how fundamental they were to her perspective. Given that she has been the target of some rather unfair and reactionary criticism on this front of late, this showed resolve and principle.

She had another very strong moment when speaking of the need for democratic reform and greater diversity within the party itself, of how disappointed she was to see candidates in the last election having their nominations revoked over issues like the Israel - Palestine conflict, and of the NDP's "need to be proud to be a left party".

While there were still a couple of silly distractions like asking what the candidates views on pineapple on pizza were (and, disappointingly, not a single one of them was willing to take the proper position that there is no place for pineapple on pizza outside of the worst food philistinism, but I digress) this was a more compelling and interesting debate while still lacking in any real back-and-forth.

Overall, Ashton seemed the likely winner both in her delivery and by presenting a consistently coherent campaign narrative, though both Angus and Julian had their moments and were in better form versus the first go-round.

See also: The NDP's leadership debate begins not with a bang but a miserable whimper

See also: No, it is not a good thing if 4 NDP MPs all pat themselves and the party on the back in a leadership "debate"

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Climate Change, Police Malfeasance, Lenin & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List March 19 - 26

This week's list of articles, news items and opinion pieces that I see as must reads if you are looking for a roundup that should be of interest to The Left Chapter readers.

This list covers the week of March 19 - March 26. It is generally in order of the date of the article's release.



1) Racial profiling complaint to be filed against Montreal police over $48 ticket incident

Aaron Derfel, Montreal Gazette 

It was supposed to be a fun night out for ice cream, but ended with six police cruisers surrounding a young black man who was holding an ice cream cone in his hand.

Read the full article.

2) Free tuition and universal child care now NDP policy

Sean Kavanagh, CBC News

The provincial New Democrats want to make tuition free and reinstate funding at two Winnipeg schools. 

Read the full article.

3) When is a rapist no longer a rapist? On the cost-free repentance of Tom Stranger

Jennifer Izaakson, Ceasefire

Two days ago, Tom Stranger was no-platformed at the South Bank Centre in London. If rapists like Stranger truly seek forgiveness, they must accept to give up power and control over the narrative. There is no redemption without loss.

Read the full article.

4) Why do so many male journalists think female stars are flirting with them?

Hadley Freeman, The Guardian

A magazine’s profile with Selena Gomez is the latest to have an icky fixation on its subject’s looks. Perhaps it’s time for men to be banned from interviewing women.

Read the full article.

5) Feminism That Doesn’t Challenge Male Entitlement Isn’t Feminism

Caitlin Roper, The Huffington Post

Once upon a time, feminism was a social movement. It was a movement by and for women. It had actual objectives - like liberating women from male oppression. It meant something.

Nowadays, with the popularity of third wave liberal feminism, feminism* can be whatever you want it to be. Anybody can be a feminist, including men, and any act can be a ‘feminist’ statement- even if it upholds institutions and structures that oppress and harm women as a whole - it’s all good as long as a woman ‘chooses’ it.

Read the full article.

6) A cop fires. A teen dies. Yet six police body cameras somehow miss what happens.

 Craig Timberg, The Washington Post 

The killing of Mary Hawkes, a troubled 19-year-old woman suspected of stealing a truck, should have been a case study in the value of police body cameras. The action was fast-moving, the decisions split-second. And all of the surviving witnesses — including the shooter — were police officers wearing small video cameras on their uniforms.

Read the full article.


7) David Miller doesn't believe Scarborough subway extension will ever be built

CBC News

The cost of a long-debated one-stop subway extension in Scarborough is currently pegged at $3.35 billion, with the issue set to go to city council next week. Former mayor David Miller spoke with Matt Galloway on CBC Radio's Metro Morning about what he thinks of the plan.

Read the full article. 

8) As Colin Kaepernick brings #LoveArmyForSomalia, NFL executives show what hate looks like 

Chuck Modiano, Daily News

“Amazing news,” a proud Colin Kaepernick announced in a video on Saturday. “Turkish Airlines granted us an airplane to fly to Somalia, a 60 ton cargo plane, so we can fly there with food with water for these people. Now we’ve started a GoFundMe page to allow anyone to help us donate food, donate water.”

Read the full article.

9) Trudeau’s Oil Views Spur African Famine

Yves Engler, Dissident Voices

Today the lives of over 10 million people in the Horn of Africa are at risk due to a drought at least partly caused by climate change. A study by Britain’s Met Office concluded that human-induced climate disturbances sparked a famine in Somalia in 2011 in which over 50,000 died. For its part, the Climate Vulnerability Monitor estimated in 2012 that climate change was responsible for some 400,000 deaths per year, a number expected to hit one million by 2030.

Read the full article.

10) Federal budget vows $100-million for strategy on gender-based violence, citing Globe Unfounded investigation

Michelle Zilio, The Globe and Mail

The Liberal government is planning to invest more than $100-million over five years to create a national strategy to prevent gender-based violence, citing a Globe and Mail investigation into how police handle sex-assault allegations across the country.

Read the full article.

11) Under pressure UK universities cancel Richard Falk event

Middle East Monitor

Two British universities have cancelled events planned for the launch of former UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard Falk’s new book.

Read the full article.

12) Poster campaign calls attention to impacts of sexual violence at U of T

Mubashir Baweja, The Varsity

On Thursday, posters containing quotes from students, staff, and faculty about the university’s response to their experiences of sexual violence were put up in conspicuous locations across campus.

Read the full article.

13) If you really care about climate change, you should boycott the ridiculous Earth Hour stunt

Adam McGibbon, The Independent

I am an environmentalist. For my whole adult life I have protested, campaigned, helped to elect climate-savvy politicians and worked hard on what I see as the cause of my life: putting a stop to the dangerous change to our climate that is killing millions.
And yet I hate one of the world’s most prominent environmental events with the intense heat of a burning climate – the annual WWF event “Earth Hour”, which this year will take place on 25 March. The charity expects millions of people around the world to symbolically switch off their lights for an hour.

Earth Hour is terrible, and not just because the symbolism of darkness is very poorly thought out. The worst thing about Earth Hour is that it tricks people into thinking they’ve done something useful by turning off the lights for 60 minutes, and lets the real villains in the climate change story off the hook.

Read the full article.

14) Ending racial discrimination means overhauling our employment laws

Avvy Go & Chris Buckley, The Toronto Star

Modernizing the laws are not just an issue of fairness, it is a fundamental issue of racial justice and equity for Ontarians. Besides, our economy prospers when more workers have access to decent jobs and make decent income.

Read the full article.

15) CUPE 3903 Condemns Racist Graffiti and Bomb Threats

CUPE 3903 Communications Director

Over the past three weeks, there have been several incidents at Glendon College where racist threats have been written on the walls, targeting Jewish and Black students. On at least two occasions, York Hall was evacuated due to a bomb threat. Such threats follow from the recent and alarming increase in far-right attacks on Muslim, Jewish, and other marginalized communities. As the union representing graduate student workers, contract faculty, and part-time librarians at York University, including Glendon College, CUPE 3903 stands against all forms of racism and hate and condemns these incidents. We wish to express our solidarity with students, staff, and faculty at the Glendon campus, and especially with the Jewish and Black members of our community that have been the targets of these threats.

Read the full article.

16) NDP leadership candidate Charlie Angus to spearhead campaign with priority on First Nation issues

Anishinabek, News

Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus is making First Nation issues a priority in his campaign to be elected leader of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP).

“My concern is that the government is still not responding in a proactive manner when emergencies happen in communities, whether it is a suicide crisis or whether it is a housing crisis or whether it is the needless number of fires,” says Angus, who registered as a leadership candidate on Feb. 20 and officially launched his leadership bid on Feb. 26. “We need to start changing how Ottawa relates with First Nation communities. And that is what I want to make a major issue in my leadership campaign.”

Read the full article.

17) Scientists Sound the Alarm: CO2 Levels Race Past Point of No Return

Cassie Kelly, EcoWatch

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that carbon dioxide levels in 2016 broke records for the second year in a row with an increase of 3 parts per million (ppm).

Read the full article.

18) Release of Arctic Methane "May Be Apocalyptic," Study Warns

Dahr Jamail, Truthout 

A scientific study published in the prestigious journal Palaeoworld in December issued a dire -- and possibly prophetic -- warning, though it garnered little attention in the media.

Read the full article.

19) Pornography is more than just sexual fantasy. It’s cultural violence.

Julia Long, The Washington Post

In March 2016, the U.K. government published its second National Strategy to End Volence Against Women and Girls. This is an extremely important lever for U.K. campaigners against pornography and its harms, as it recognizes that young people in particular have unprecedented access to online content and that some of that content may of course be harmful. A current government inquiry into sexual harassment in schools and a new cross-party campaign to tackle misogynist abuse online have all highlighted the ways in which pornography contributes to and legitimizes negative attitudes with very real impacts on the lives of women and girls.

Read the full article.

20) Toronto police cleared in death of man Tasered eight times in bathtub

Wendy Gillis, The Toronto Star

Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared Toronto police in the death of a man who died after he was Tasered eight times by police in his bathtub.

Read the full article.

21) Police officer who punched handcuffed teen violated Canadian charter, judge rules

Andrew Foote, CBC News

An Ottawa police officer violated several sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms during a 2015 arrest in which he punched a handcuffed teenager in the face, a judge ruled this week.

Read the full article.

22) Toronto school board suspending U.S. travel over border issues

Paola Loriggio, The Globe and Mail

Canada’s largest school board says it will stop booking trips to the United States indefinitely in light of the uncertainty surrounding restrictions at the border.

The Toronto District School Board, which serves about 245,000 public school students, says it made the “difficult decision” because it believes students “should not be placed into these situations of potentially being turned away at the border.”

Read the full article. 

23) Anti-Islam Protesters Rip Qur'an At Ontario School Board Meeting

The Huffington Post Canada

Anti-Islam protesters ripped a Qur'an and walked over its torn pages during an Ontario school board meeting Wednesday evening, as they demanded that Muslim students be banned from praying at school.

Read the full article. 

24) Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter Groups Join Forces

Associated Press

A cluster of Black Lives Matter groups and the organization leading the push for a $15-an-hour wage are joining forces to combine the struggle for racial justice with the fight for economic equality, just as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. tried to do in the last year of his life.

Read the full article.

25) How Lenin’s love of literature shaped the Russian Revolution

Tariq Ali, The Guardian

Literature shaped the political culture of the Russia in which Vladimir Ilyich Lenin grew up. Explicitly political texts were difficult to publish under the tsarist regime. The rasher essayists were holed up in asylums until they “recovered”: in other words, until they publicly recanted their views. Novels and poetry, meanwhile, were treated more leniently – though not in every instance.

Read the full article.

26) Earth's worst-ever mass extinction of life holds 'apocalyptic' warning about climate change, say scientists

Ian Johnston, The Independent

Researchers studying the largest-ever mass extinction in Earth’s history claim to have found evidence that it was caused by runaway global warming – and that the “apocalyptic” events of 250 million years ago could happen again.

Read the full article.

See also: The NDP Leadership Race, the Dutch GreenLeft, Gavin McInnes & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List March 12-19


See also: Chrystia Freeland, IWD, the British Empire & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List March 5 - 12

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sid Ryan hits all the right leftist notes in a powerful video that leaves us asking why he is not running

Sid Ryan, the seemingly divisive former leader of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), has been flirting with the idea of running for the leadership of the NDP for a few months now.

To be fair, this was not entirely Ryan's own doing. A group of leftists within the NDP -- primarily centered around the Socialist Caucus -- has been encouraging him to run to the point that they even created a website for him and, conveniently, a platform! To a degree, to be honest, this had the feel of an astroturf campaign, but it did have the virtue of being a very principled one.

Ryan, while remaining noncommittal, has written really solid pieces and made good statements reflecting why the NDP needs to shift left.

Yesterday Ryan, however, took a page from Bernie Sanders and released what has to be seen as a campaign video that is almost perfectly conceived and hits all the right notes. It does leave one asking why he is not in the race.

The video is leftist, unapologetic, inspiring, and very well done.

It is a forceful shot across the bow and sends a strong message.

He takes a forthright stance on pipelines, is open about the NDP's undemocratic past, tackles the disaster of "free trade" deals, talks about the need to redistribute wealth and spending, and he does it all in a notably powerful way.

Yet, sadly, he ends it in an equivocating fashion  that -- while very self-effacing and democratic -- does make one question when he will make clear his intentions and why he has not joined the fray.

Still, this is easily the most leftist and stirring video (in the era of videos) to ever be released by any candidate for the NDP leadership and it is not simply worth watching, but also worth celebrating as an exciting moment where Ryan said things that needed to be said and did so in a way that has the potential to transform the entire leadership race.

Watch the video, and then wonder why it is not a video (yet) for an official candidate. Something it truly should be.





See also: The NDP's leadership debate begins not with a bang but a miserable whimper

See also: New directions or continuity? -- The NDP leadership race begins in earnest


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 theleftchapter@outlook.com

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 theleftchapter@outlook.com!

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)