Sunday, December 30, 2018

Bolsonaro Inauguration, Zambian Socialist Party, Cuba & more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos December 23 - 30

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


This list covers the week of December 23 - 30.


1) Socialism strives to ensure all citizens lead dignified lives, says Singoyi

Issac Zulu, The Mast

SOCIALIST Party political assistant to the general secretary Kachingwe Singoyi says capitalism does not favour interests of workers.

2) Indigenous Nation Blocks TransCanada Pipeline with New Checkpoint

The Real News Network 

When TransCanada attempts to deliver a Canadian court injunction against a decade-old Wet’suwet’en checkpoint, they run into a second checkpoint instead. The Wet’suwet’en people have never signed treaties with Canada or sold their lands, a fact confirmed by Canada’s Supreme Court in 1997 in a landmark case known as Delgamuukw.

On Christmas day 1837, Africans and Native Americans who formed Florida’s Seminole Nation defeated a vastly superior U.S. invading army. This alliance of Seminole warriors resisted a forced relocation to a reservation out west as well as a forced return of Africans back to slavery.


The battle was one of many in the Seminole Wars, which were the longest and most expensive (both in human and monetary terms) Indian Wars in United States history. The victory of the Christmas Day freedom fighters was an early example of successful multiracial resistance against colonialism and racism. (Via Telesur Facebook) 


3) Israel: Netanyahu's Coalition Collapses, Early Elections Called

Telesur

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's much boasted about coalition failed and a new election has been called for April.

4) Migrant boy dies in U.S. custody; Trump vows shutdown will last until border wall is funded

 Lenny Bernstein, Philip Rucker and Robert Moore, The Washington Post 

An 8-year-old Guatemalan child detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection died at a hospital in New Mexico, the agency reported Tuesday, the second migrant child to die in government custody this month.

5) Dec. 26, 1862: Mass Execution of Dakota Indians

Zinn Education Project

On Dec. 26, 1862, 38 Dakota Indians were executed by the U.S. government during the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 (also known as the Sioux Uprising, Dakota Uprising).

6) ‘Stronger’ communists mark 50th year with vow to resist Duterte’s tyranny

Llanesca T. Panti, GMA News

On its 50th anniversary, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Wednesday has vowed to soldier on in resisting President Rodrigo Duterte's policy of fascist terror, saying that their troops can't be defeated by the military.

7) It’s time of renewal, says M’membe

Chambwa Moonga, The Mast

THE Socialist Party (Zambia) has urged the working class and the poor to find comfort in Christmas’ spirit of sharing and solidarity.

8) CPI celebrates 93rd foundation day at Himayat Nagar

The Hans India

The Communist Party of India (CPI) has completed 93 years. Its leaders celebrated the occasion here at Makdhum Bhavan on Wednesday. Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy participated in the celebrations as chief guest. Telangana state CPI leaders Chada Venkat Reddy, CPI state secretary and other party leaders were also present on the occasion. Speaking on the occasion, Sudhakar Reddy explained the circumstances when the party was formed during the British rule. He said that the party was formed to fight against the British imperialism. He recalled the sacrifices of many Communist freedom fighters. He also noted the role of the party in Telangana Armed Struggle.

9) The Real Face of Justin Trudeau

Ramzy Baroud, The Socialist Project Bullet 

Trudeau and his government will certainly be judged by future generations, as his predecessors were judged for their past sins, for choosing, despite the passage of time, to stand on the wrong side of history.

10) “For the Humblest of the Zambian People, There is No Other Alternative to Socialism”

People's Dispatch

Peoples Dispatch, along with the media team of the Socialist Party of Zambia, spoke to Dr. Fred M’membe about the struggle for socialism in Zambia, and across the African continent

11) An inconvenient truth: the enduring popularity of socialism in the post-Soviet states

Gavin Mendel-Gleason, Morning Star 

TWO decades of polling by the Levada Centre, a Russian NGO, show that the majority of people in Russia regret the downfall of the USSR. It is mainly economic and social reasons that fuel this regret. This year, positive sentiment towards the Soviet Union has hit a 14-year-high.

12) LDA candidates face intimidation, torture

Sadiqur Rahman, New Age Bangladesh 

Left Democratic Alliance on Friday expressed deep dissatisfaction and resentment about the ‘non-congenial atmosphere’ for 11th national polls.

13) Opposition announces boycott of the inauguration of the elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro

MNA

The Workers' Party (PT), which ruled Brazil between 2003 and 2016, the Socialist and Freedom Party and the Communist Party announced today that they will boycott the inauguration of the new Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro.

14) Brazil: Mexico's AMLO Won't Attend Bolsonaro's Inauguration

Telesur 

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has declined to attend the inauguration of Brazil’s far-right future President Jair Bolsonaro, and is sending Agriculture Secretary Victor Manuel Villalobos instead.

15) Cuba Celebrates 60 Years Since Key Revolutionary Victory

Telesur

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel remembered Saturday the key revolutionary victory of Santa Clara when rebel forces led by then commander Ernesto “Che” Guevara derailed an armored train carrying dictator Fulgencio Batista’s troops.

Two years ago, on December 28, 2016, Toronto police officer Michael Theriault and his brother Christian attacked Dafonte Miller, then 19 years old, with a metal pipe. Police in Toronto and Durham conspired to cover up the crime, and charged Dafonte with assault. - Read Desmond Cole's full Facebook post


16) Year In Review 2018: A grim year for Toronto's poor

Peter Biesterfeld, NOW Magazine 

Now under Doug Ford, the poor are facing overt class warfare.

17) Ahead of inauguration day, Brazilian media braces for Bolsonaro

 Andrew Downie, CPJ 

Long before one of their photographers was harassed on election night in Brazil, the editors at Fortaleza newspaper O Povo were meeting with their readers and staff to discuss the increasingly polarized environment and how to deal with it.

See also: India, Hungary and Lebanon Protests, Cuba's Constitution, Ontario Austerity and more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos December 16 - 23

See also: Minassian's Misogynist Attack, Courage to Leap, James Laxer & more -- 2018 on The Left Chapter in review

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Candido Portinari, Brazilian Artist and Communist b. December 29, 1903


Fishing - 1932

"Art workers can do a great deal to create a better and more just world. This calls for belief in the strength of the people, in the working class and in the future" 
- Candido Portinari (1903 - 1962)

Candido Portinari was a Brazilian social realist painter and communist activist. He stood in elections for the Brazilian senate and parliament in 1945 and 1947 for the Communist Party and was forced to flee the country and live in exile for a number of years due to persecution. 

In 1957 Brazil presented two magnificent murals he had painted (each of which is 34 by 46 feet in size) -- War and Peace -- to the United Nations that are on display in New York to this day

Tragically he died at age 58 due to lead poisoning related to his own paints and art. 

Below is an outline of his work and life that was published in the Soviet English language magazine Socialism: Theory and Practice in 1985 as well as reproductions of the two murals.  




War - 1957


Peace - 1957

Friday, December 28, 2018

Minassian's Misogynist Attack, Courage to Leap, James Laxer & more -- 2018 on The Left Chapter in review

2018 saw over 330 posts of various kinds on The Left Chapter. These ranged from analysis to opinion pieces to left history to art and recipe posts.

Consistently popular as well were our vintage postcard and photography posts. One of these, Covered Bridges of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine -- A Vintage Postcard Folder  was the most popular of these we have ever done and very nearly made our Top Ten list. Our three part look at Revolutionary Cuba 1975: Sixteen Years of Socialist Construction with dozens of vintage photographs was also widely viewed and shared. There were many others such as In the Delta of the Volga -- Images of Soviet Astrakhan and Region, 1976 or 20 Panoramic Views of Soviet Ulyanovsk 1969 -- Lenin's Birthplace. 

Meanwhile we continued our Vintage Leftist Leaflet project with posts like Sitdown Strike -- Heritage of Struggle - UAW Education Department 1965. Readers can look forward to many more of these in 2019. Similarly we started our looks at Soviet social history that included such posts as The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic 1987: Photos, Culture, Economy, History & more -- Socialist Republics of the Soviet Union Series and the very popular Trams and buses in the USSR -- A look at public transit in the Soviet Union, 1976. 

I want to thank all of our readers and contributors very much for their feedback, support, criticisms and engagement.

The year had many posts that came very, very close to making this list. We also had contributions from writers that were widely read and shared and that included Gabriel Haythornthwaite's trenchant analysis Ontario’s 2018 Election: Pessimism Today, Strategic Organizing Tomorrow , Yves Engler's It is time to call a technical foul on Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri's ties to Paul Kagame and Nathaniel Laxer's The true seasonal message is that the monarchy has got to go

The Left Chapter also posted petitions and appeals such as Open Letter Re: The Closing of the Saskatoon Office of the Provincial Archives at the University of Saskatchewan and A call for the NDP to withdraw from the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed this year and I look forward to seeing what interesting viewpoints and arguments we see next year!

(Remember that if you have a left point-of-view or opinion, a recipe or a story you want to share or if you want to share a petition/appeal or upcoming event you can send them to The Left Chapter via theleftchapter@outlook.com!)

Readers can look forward to new features in 2019 including videos and interviews. Remember also that on New Year's Day we will post our list of the top food and recipe posts of 2018.

Here, without further ado, are the top ten posts (in terms of hits) on The Left Chapter in 2018:

1) We all could have seen Minassian's misogynist attack coming if we had wanted to look

Horrified. Disgusted. Angry. Those words and many others can accurately describe how myself and so many others feel about the terrible, senseless attack in Toronto that claimed the lives of 10 innocent people and seriously injured 14 others.

But what I am not is surprised.

See also: In the wake of another mass killing in Toronto we have to keep talking about male violence

2) The Courage to Leap comes far too late to matter

If you have ever wanted a snapshot of why the left in Canada is a joke, here it is.

See also: Socialist International backs BDS. When will Canada's NDP?

3) James Laxer -- Canadian iconoclast 1941-2018

A unique figure during these past few decades of Canadian politics, Jim always tried to fight for and suggest a path forward towards a fairer and more just Canada, an independent and socialist Canada, regardless of whose feathers this ruffled or whose feet he stepped on. Not one to shy away from what he believed, he provides a lesson to all of us on the left of how to stand up for what we think is right no matter the short term cost and irrespective of careerist goals.

That, as much as anything else, is a legacy worth embracing and one I hope is not soon forgotten.

4) In-depth interview with Ryan Meili, Saskatchewan NDP leadership candidate: “As change is happening, are we going to be leading it, or just watching it happen?”

By Ammario Reza

As the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party’s leadership race winds down, I have a chat with Dr. Ryan Meili, who is campaigning to be the next leader of the party. (Editor's note...Dr. Meili ultimately won the leadership).

5) The grotesque absurdity of left-liberal support for porn and prostitution needs to be questioned after Minassian's misogynist attack

There is no liberal or left case for porn or prostitution that is not simply aiding and abetting the worst and most dehumanizing aspects that have led us here.

6) An interview with NDP Parliamentary Leader Guy Caron

by Ammario Reza

In the federal NDP timeline, we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year in 2018, rounding up the first quarter since the federal NDP leadership race four months ago that was ultimately won by Jagmeet Singh on the first ballot.

7) Tie: "Ban on Jews" -- A 1933 antisemitic beach edict in Long Branch reminds of Toronto's past on the anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot

Today is the 85th anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot, a pivotal moment in the fight against fascism and Nazism in Toronto and Canada in the early 1930s.

See also: "You can't hang us all. They will avenge me." - Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, Anti-Nazi Hero Murdered November 29, 1941

7) Tie: James Laxer on Canadian Social Democracy: Past, Present and Future

By Matt Fodor 


In this wide-ranging interview, conducted in April 2014, James Laxer discusses his personal history and involvement in the NDP and the Waffle, the ideological trajectory of Canadian social democracy and the continuing relevance of a socialist vision for the future.

8) Why are Toronto police officers striking a pose with far-right mayoral candidate Faith Goldy?

Faith Goldy, a "reactionary, islamophobic Rebel News contributor, turned “Euro-Canadian Catholic Nationalist”" held a campaign rally for her Toronto mayoral run today. As is common after such events she posted a photo of her and her volunteers on twitter.

9) Chaos Theory: For Doug Ford disruption will be the plan

On his first day in office in 2010 newly elected Toronto Mayor Rob Ford strode out before assembled reporters and proclaimed “Ladies and gentlemen, the war on the car stops today . . . Transit City is over".

See also: Doug Ford's bully boy antics may yet derail his vicious administration

10) Doug Ford wants you to subsidize the poverty wages of corporations

Any plan that frames tax cuts or credits as an alternative to higher wages is by definition asking the people of the province to help ensure that businesses can continue to pay workers wages that they cannot live on.

See also: Ontario Conservative MPP Ross Romano's grotesque comments against cancer medication coverage

Have a happy and safe New Year! See you all in 2019.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The true seasonal message is that the monarchy has got to go

By Nathaniel Laxer

Christmas came and went, an 8 year old migrant child died in American custody on Christmas Eve and humanity still only has 12 years to limit severe irreversible climate change. But look on the bright side -- the Queen granted us her annual Christmas message! A statement that was broadcast live over CBC radio into my home, and the homes, cars and public places of millions of other people across Canada and across the Commonwealth.

During her statement -- made in a luxurious room that included an actual golden piano behind her -- the Queen stated that she believed “the power of faith, frequently inspires great generosity and self-sacrifice”, and that "With two weddings and two babies, and another child expected soon, it helps to keep a grandmother well occupied" Our poor queen! She is very busy.

Statements such as these are made particularly ironic and cuttingly cynical by the fact that the United Kingdom is instituting a campaign of -- as a UN report described it -- “mean-spirited and callous” austerity effecting it’s most vulnerable and destitute citizens. With “a 7 per cent rise in child poverty, a 60 per cent increase in homelessness since 2010 and exponential growth in the number of food banks.” The UN special rapporteur on the issue saying “'I have spoken with people who depend on food banks and charities for their next meal, who have sold sex for money or shelter, children who are growing up in poverty unsure of their future”. He only visited the country for 12 days.

While this campaign of vicious austerity was implemented, the royal family spent 2 million pounds, of their rather generous welfare state allowance on clothing for the royal wedding. The local council ordered the streets cleared of the homeless so that these new clothes would not be ruined by any unfortunate background. What a show of “great generosity and self sacrifice”.

Just like the great show of self sacrifice that the Queen will display when she will have to move out of her room in Buckingham Palace temporarily -- along with the 10,000 pieces of art in the royal collection -- while the palace undergoes a state funded 369 million pound renovation. Apparently this money couldn’t go towards her staff at places like Windsor Castle though. They almost went on strike in 2015 over their “appallingly low” wage of  as little as 14,400 pounds a year, or about 21,000 USD.

It would have only cost 293,000 pounds to give Grenfell tower proper fire protection, thereby saving 72 lives.

But none of this is a shock, the British monarchy has always been a parasitic leech. A leftover from the middle ages. A reactionary symbol of hierarchy, empire and a racist sense of superiority. A monarchy whose largest, most central crown jewel was stolen from India during its time as a blood-soaked colony.  A monarchy that has no reason to still exist in the United Kingdom, never mind here in Canada. This has long been true, but never more obviously so in this time of looming global ecological catastrophe and sickening growth of extreme economic inequality.

The real message as the world heads into the New Year is that we desperately need a fundamental restructuring of our society. The removal of the retrograde uselessness that is the monarchy will necessarily be a part of this restructuring.

See also: Of course we should get rid of the monarchy. And not because it is expensive, but because it is wrong.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

India, Hungary and Lebanon Protests, Cuba's Constitution, Ontario Austerity and more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos December 16 - 23

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

This list covers the week of December 16 - 23.

1) Former Workers Party President Sean Garland 'helped transform Irish republicanism'

Belfast Telegraph 

The former Workers’ Party president died from cancer on Thursday aged 84.

2) Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group Supports Imperialism

Yves Engler, The Palestine Chronicle

Do New Democrat MPs who belong to the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group (CIIG) have carte blanche to flout party policy?

3) Jeremy Corbyn tables motion of no confidence in Theresa May

Lucy Middleton, Metro UK 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has told MPs he will table a motion of no confidence in Theresa May over her handling of the Brexit deal vote.


4) Next left: Corbyn, Sanders and the return of socialism

Ben Tarnoff, The Guardian

Away from the Brexit and Trump headlines, the revival of socialism in the UK and US remains striking. Can Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders help to take it further?

5) Lebanese take to the streets to protest political stalemate

The Tribune

Hundreds of Lebanese took to the streets Sunday to protest against a political stalemate that has prevented the formation of a new government seven months after elections.

6) Anti-Muslim agitator gives video apology to owner of Paramount Fine Foods over ‘jihadist’ comments

Jennifer Yang, The Toronto Star

A year and a half after a well-known anti-Muslim agitator was videotaped claiming anyone who eats at a popular GTA Middle Eastern restaurant chain had to be a “jihadist” who rapes their wife, he is admitting his comments were “defamatory and disparaging” and is apologizing to the Muslim-Canadian businessman who owns the chain.

7) A Texas Elementary School Speech Pathologist Refused to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath, Now Mandatory in Many States — so She Lost Her Job

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

A CHILDREN’S SPEECH PATHOLOGIST who has worked for the last nine years with developmentally disabled, autistic, and speech-impaired elementary school students in Austin, Texas, has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district, after she refused to sign an oath vowing that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that foreign nation. A lawsuit on her behalf was filed early Monday morning in a federal court in the Western District of Texas, alleging a violation of her First Amendment right of free speech.

8) Trump Turns the Ties Between Israel and U.S. Jews Totally Toxic

Chemi Shalev, Haaretz

Netanyahu’s government is increasingly perceived as the Kellyanne Conway of Trump’s race baiting and the Rudy Giuliani of his America First agenda.

9) Jury calls for end to segregation of mentally ill inmates

Laurie Fagan · CBC News 

The jury at a coroner's inquest into the death of a mentally ill inmate at Ottawa's jail has made sweeping recommendations aimed at preventing a similar incident from happening in the future.

10) Maduro Rejects Invite to Bolsonaro's Inauguration: Arreaza

Telesur


"Venezuela would never attend the inauguration of President Jair Bolsonaro," Minister Jorge Arreaza said.

11) AMLO: Minimum Wage Up 16%, Biggest in 23 Years

Telesur

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) followed through on a campaign promise Monday announcing a minimum wage hike of 16.21 percent, Mexico’s largest in 23 years.

12) Montreal must pay after removing posters during 2015 federal election campaign

Montreal Gazette 

The Communist Party of Canada and the Boycott, Désinvestissement, Sanction Québec movement will receive $12,860, a Quebec Court judge has ruled.

13) Amazon faces boycott ahead of holidays as public discontent grows

Jana Kasperkevic, The Guardian

A growing number of customers are fed up with the company, from its working conditions at warehouses to anti-tax lobbying.

14) Argentine Gov’t ‘Pressuring’ Labor Judges Who Protect Workers

Telesur 

Argentine authorities are seeking the dismissal of two justices who ruled against layoffs, which are an integral part of IMF-backed austerity policies.

15) Indigenous leader urges EU to impose sanctions on Brazil

Arthur Neslen, The Guardian

Brazil’s foremost indigenous leader has called on the EU to impose trade sanctions to prevent ecological disaster and a “social extermination” by her country’s far-right president-elect, who takes office on 1 January.

16) China produces Karl Marx cartoon series to mark 200th anniversary of his birth

Mandy Zuo, The South China Morning Post

The animation, co-produced by central government’s Marxism office, will be shown by video streaming website Bilibili.com.

(Related: The Leader -- Chinese Karl Marx Anime Bio Trailer)

17) Canadian yellow vest protests unlike French movement, despite similar attire: U of S prof

Kendall Latimer · CBC News

Charles Smith says Canada protests include 'concerning' anti-immigration message.

18) Brazil: Court Ruling Might Lead to Lula's Freedom

Telesur 

Supreme Court Justice Marco Aurelio Mello granted Wednesday a preliminary injunction to release people convicted in a second instance who still have appeals pending. This decision may lead to the release of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was arrested after being convicted in the Lava-Jato corruption case by a Federal Regional Court.

19) Alice Walker’s Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Just Anti-Semitic – They’re Anti-Black

Rebecca Pierce, Forward 

The end of Baldwin’s essay includes an important reminder for all of us in these discussions: “If today I refuse to hate Jews, or anybody else, it is because I know how it feels to be hated.”

20) Court of Appeal rules Uber drivers are entitled to minimum wage, holiday and sick pay

Peter Lazenby, Morning Star 

THE so-called “gig economy” suffered a huge blow today when the Court of Appeal ruled that tens of thousands of drivers working for cab firm Uber are employees entitled to the minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay and other rights.

21) If you feel confident enough to challenge your bigoted uncle this Christmas, you're privileged – as the Femicide Census proves

Victoria Smith, The Independent 

139 women were killed this year, most by people they knew, and almost half died at the hands of a current or former partner. Many of us will be left wondering what it's like to be able to talk back to our relatives.

22) ’White’ hockey teams in Manitoba accused of forming league without First Nations

Canadian Press

A lawyer representing some Indigenous hockey teams in Manitoba is arguing in court that all the “white teams” got together and formed a new Junior B league which excludes First Nations.

23) Socialists seek official party status in Maine

Kevin Miller, The Press Herald


The Socialist Party of Maine is seeking official recognition as a political party in the state.

24) B.C. votes to keep first-past-the-post electoral system

CBC News

'I think electoral reform is finished,' says deputy premier Carole James.

25) Beto O’Rourke frequently voted for Republican legislation, analysis reveals

David Sirota, The Guardian 

Review of his six-year record in Congress shows Democrat frequently opposed own party, and supported bills that boosted the fossil fuel industry and Trump’s immigration policy.

26) Class-action lawsuit filed against northern RCMP over alleged Indigenous mistreatment

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

A class-action lawsuit filed in an Edmonton court alleges RCMP in the three northern territories regularly assault and abuse Indigenous people.

27) Class action lawsuit proposed on coerced sterilization in Alberta

Kristy Kirkup · The Canadian Press 

A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against the Government of Alberta on behalf of Indigenous women who say they were subjected to forced sterilization.

Soviet nostalgia is at it's highest point in 14 years and growing.



28) Can Canada’s Tar Sands Industry Be Profitable Without Government Subsidies?


The Real News Network

Todd Paglia of Stand Earth says Canadians taxpayers increasingly foot the bill for Canada’s fossil fuels industry.

29) Measles cases at highest for 20 years in Europe, as anti-vaccine movement grows

Sarah Boseley, The Guardian 

A growing anti-vaccine movement in Europe, fuelled by social media and anti-establishment populists, is putting lives at risk and may be to blame for measles outbreaks surging to a 20-year high, health experts are warning.

30) Spanish Elections Offer Another Lesson for the Left

Conn Hallinan, Foreign Policy in Focus

Again, the success of right-wing parties reflects less the rise of the right than the collapse of the center.

31) Democrats Just Blocked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Push For A Green New Deal Committee

 Alexander C. Kaufman, HuffPost US

Instead, Democrats are sticking to their original plan, and channeled Exxon Mobil in an announcement refusing to bar members who take fossil fuel money.

32) White House Orders Pentagon To Pull U.S. Troops From Syria

Laurel Wamsley, NPR

The U.S. plans to withdraw all of its troops from Syria, a senior Pentagon official tells NPR. About 2,000 U.S. troops are currently in the northeastern part of the country, near the Turkish border.

33) Trump wants to yank half the U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, too

Paul Vale, Vice News

President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to make plans to pull 7,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, according to multiple reports published Thursday.

34) U.S. Supreme Court rejects Trump bid to enforce new asylum rules

Thomson Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday dealt a setback to President Donald Trump by refusing to allow his administration to implement new rules prohibiting asylum for people who cross the U.S. border illegally, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four liberal justices in denying the request.

35) India’s urban and rural working class to embark on two day nationwide strike in January

V. Arun Kumar, People's Dispatch

The shutdown in rural India coinciding with the trade union’s strike will unite the farmers and workers to challenge the pro-corporate and anti-people rule of far right BJP government.

36) 180 million workers may join 2-day trade union strike in January against Modi government

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times

Trade union leaders also cited a Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) report that says the unemployment rate in October rose to 6.9% and nearly 30 million youth are unemployed.

37) Protesters just blocked a major Toronto intersection over Indigenous rights

Lauren O'Neil, Blog TO

Hundreds of Indigenous Rights activists are gathered in Yonge Dundas Square this afternoon among throngs of last-minute holiday shoppers to protest the first draft of Canada's long-promised Indigeous Rights Framework.

38) Opposition in Hungary Demonstrates Against Orban, in Rare Display of Dissent

Patrick Kingsley, The New York Times

Opponents of Hungary’s far-right prime minister, Viktor Orban, demonstrated on Sunday for the fourth day in the past five, in what has become one of the most sustained displays of street opposition to Mr. Orban since he entered office eight years ago.

39) Anti-government protesters mass for 5th day in Hungary

Kester Eddy, KFDA

A few thousand demonstrators gathered in freezing temperatures outside Hungary's state broadcaster Monday night in a fifth day of protests against the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

40) Hungary: Stop the slave law

Act Now Petition


On December 12 the Hungarian Parliament adopted the "Slave Law" which could require workers to do overtime work up to 400 hours a year. Further, the reference period is increased to 36 months. The law was passed without proper consultation with social partners, through misuse of the Parliamentary procedures.

41) Left-wing opposition calls for joint candidate for Budapest mayor

Hungary Today

Parties of the opposition should field a joint candidate for the post of Budapest mayor in next year’s municipal elections, representatives of the Socialist, Democratic Coalition (DK), Párbeszéd parties and of the Solidarity movement told a press conference on Thursday.

42) Hungary protests give opposition a chance to work together

Eldar Emric & Pablo Gorondi, The Salem News

The recent protests in Hungary have given the fragmented opposition a real opportunity to work together as they challenge Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has an overwhelming majority in parliament.

43) Ontario government cuts millions of dollars for tutors and student leadership programming

Alanna Rizza, The Globe and Mail

The Ontario government is slashing millions of dollars in funding for programs that are aimed at providing students with extra skills and support, leaving school boards to figure out how students will be affected.

44) Toronto school board says layoffs coming after province cuts $25M in funding

CBC/Radio-Canada

A major Toronto school board said the province's decision to cut specialized programs will result in some 95 part-time student workers immediately losing their jobs.

45) Ron Taverner staying with Toronto police despite appointment as OPP chief — for now

CBC News

Ron Taverner, who's tapped to be the next chief of Ontario Provincial Police, has rescinded his resignation papers as a superintendent with Toronto police.

46) Ford is trampling workers’ rights again with back-to-work legislation, says OFL

Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontarians should be deeply concerned at the speed and the manner with which the Ford government brushes away Charter rights by using back-to-work legislation, says the Ontario Federation of Labour. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the rights of all Canadians.

47) 'It's heartbreaking': Indigenous artists mourn possible cuts to culture fund under review by PCs

CBC News

The Ontario government says it is reviewing a fund for Indigenous culture that was set up in response to calls for action from Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

48) Restoration of normal delivery times proves backlog was ‘fiction,’ says postal worker’s union

Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

The restoration of delivery service guarantees by Canada Post — three weeks after striking postal workers were forced back to work — proves the shipment backlogs Ottawa used to justify legislating an end to rotating walkouts were "fiction," says the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

49) Protesting Santas picket in front of Canada Post in Victoria

Shalu Mehta, Sooke News Mirror

A group of protesters dressed as Santa picketed in front of the Canada Post on Glanford Avenue Saturday morning in support of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

50) Cuban Baseball Federation and MLB reach historic agreement

Oscar Sánchez Serra & Sigfredo Barros Segrera, Granma 

“Today is a happy day for Cuban baseball, for the world, the people of Cuba and the United States,” stated Higinio Vélez Carrión, president of the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB), referring to the agreement to allow Cuban players to sign with the Major Leagues.

51) Cuba reinserts 'communism' in draft of new constitution

Reuters 

Cuba has reinserted the goal of “advancing toward a communist society” into the draft of the country’s new constitution after its removal from the first version had sparked concern among thousands of citizens, state-run television said on Thursday.

52) Cuban Lawmakers Approve Revised Draft of New Constitution

Telesur

Cuban lawmakers Saturday unanimously approved a revised draft of the new Cuban constitution.

See also: Cyntoia Brown, Taverner, Yellow Vests & more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos December 9 - 16

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The 20 Best Songs of 2018 ft. Janelle Monáe, John Prine, Childish Gambino, Leon Bridges & more!


Our annual list of the 20 best songs of the year. From Chvrches to The 1975 to John Prine to Childish Gambino, Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves, Janelle Monáe and so much more...here we go!


Chvrches' album Love is Dead was a pop triumph. And this song, something of a throwback, is a wistful, bittersweet standout.



#20 Graffiti - Chvrches



Off her exceptional album By the Way, I Forgive You -- which got a much deserved but surprise Grammy nomination nod -- this is Carlile at her best.

#19 - Every Time I Hear That Song, Brandi Carlile



What is not to like about this rousing, old school song? Great stuff!

#18 A Little Honey, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats



Turn the volume up to 11 on this one and open the windows to bug the neighbours....great straight-up rock song.

#17) That's What Heaven Feels Like, The Dirty Nil




Co-written with a veteran of American wars, this powerful country-folk song expresses the mixed and difficult feelings that many have after they come home from years of brutality and violence. While the video debuted at the end of last year, the album and song were officially released in 2018.

"And they thank me for my service and wave their little flags
They genuflect on Sundays and yes, they'd send us back
But I believe in God and country and in the angels up on high
And in heaven shining down on us through bullet holes in the sky"

#16) Bullet Holes in the Sky, Mary Gauthier



Written by the exceptionally talented Jason Isbell, this terrific song off the superb soundtrack for A Star is Born is lyrically powerful and shows that Bradley Cooper in an alternate universe is a huge country music star!

#15) Maybe It's Time, Bradley Cooper



This hypnotic song lulls you with its tone, length and mesmerizing repetition...perfect with headphones on repeat...over-and-over....

#14 Venice Bitch, Lana Del Ray



Off the nearly perfect album Golden Hour -- which also garnered an unexpected and richly deserved Grammy nomination for Album of the Year -- this is one of her very best songs...and not her last entry on this list.

#13) High Horse, Kacey Musgraves



As far as original mainstream movie songs go...they don't get much better than this! A great duet, a terrific, soaring Broadway style feel...a near certain Oscar winner...

#12 Shallow, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper



A painfully honest, raw, wonderful song. Lindsey Jordan, who is only 19, is going great places...

#11) Pristine, Snail Mail


Dirty Computer is the masterpiece album of 2018...Janelle Monáe has always been incredible, but it is hard to imagine she will top this...here is hoping.

Any number of songs could have made this list, but this one, which is not the last, is an all around standout and embodies the sound and vision of the whole project.

#10) Django Jane, Janelle Monáe



I always had a soft spot for these guys...but this is an almost out-of-nowhere elevation to different level...an intense song that oppressively reminds of the disorientation of our times while providing surprising musical contrasts...a band now to watch...

#9) Love It If We Made It, The 1975




Her second entry on this year's list...the "You can have your space...cowboy" lyric with the pregnant pause is brilliant.

p.s....the guy is clearly a schmuck.

#8) Space Cowboy, Kacey Musgraves



Dream like, hypnotic, nostalgic, a little piece of anxious genius.

#7) Boyish, Japanese Breakfast



I don't care what anyone says, he was the best host of Q to date....and this is a fantastic song off a fantastic album.

#6) The Fool Pt 1, Shad


Wanderer is an incredible album and if I did not have a philosophical rule against putting covers on best of lists her cover of Stay would also be here...

This a great song and a great collaboration.

#5) Woman, Cat Power (feat. Lana Del Rey)

cat power

I can listen to this song three times daily and five times on Sunday!

Just wonderful. Romantic, soaring vocals, touching, heartfelt.

About as good a love song as you will ever hear.

#4) Leon Bridges - Beyond



Disturbing, intense, irreverent, angry, comic...a song for our time.

#3 Childish Gambino - This Is America



The legendary John Prine. Back again with this emotionally devastating song about the opioid crisis, love, longing and loss.

If you have not heard this...and it has not gotten much mainstream play...it is stunning.

#2) Summer's End, John Prine




It is pretty hard to imagine a greater stand alone song this year. With Prince influences, clever lyrical twists, amazing hooks...Monáe strikes in ways both new and familiar.

Stunning.

#1) Make Me Feel - Janelle Monáe 



See also: The 20 Best Songs of 2017 ft. Hurray For The Riff Raff, Arcade Fire, Jay-Z, Jessie Reyez and more!

Friday, December 21, 2018

It is time to call a technical foul on Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri's ties to Paul Kagame

By Yves Engler 

It is time to call a technical foul on Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri for his ties to one of the world’s most ruthless dictators. Through his Giants of Africa charity Ujiri has bestowed legitimacy on Paul Kagame even as local newspapers document the Rwandan president’s violence.

Before their December 5 game against the Philadelphia 76ers the Raptors celebrated Nelson Mandela as the Giant of Africa. A report produced for the two-day charity fundraiser noted, “since Giants of Africa’s first Mandela Tribute event held in 2014, we are grateful to have had many influential guests participate in our initiative.” Kagame and Barack Obama were the only two politicians listed.

At an NBA meeting in New York in September Kagame thanked Ujiri and Raptors governor Larry Tanenbaum, lauding the Giants of Africa initiative as “another step for Africa in our development.” In August Kagame opened a training camp in Kigali with Ujiri and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver while two months earlier the Raptors GM met the Rwandan leader at the G7 Summit in Quebec City.

Last year Ujiri travelled to Kigali to unveil a new basketball court with Kagame. In 2015 the president’s son, Ian Kagame, attended the inaugural Giants of Africa camp in the Rwandan capital. During that visit the president hosted the Raptors GM for dinner. According to a Globe and Mail story, the one-time head of Ugandan military intelligence told “Ujiri that he’d woken in the middle of the night to watch Raptors’ playoff games.”

As this mutual love affair developed there were questions about the team’s association with a ruthless dictator. During the NBA All-Star weekend in February 2016 the Toronto Star contacted Ujiri about Kagame speaking at numerous events, including a documentary screening about Giants of Africa camps at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The Raptors GM told the paper “there is no controversy.”

A month before Kagame’s visit to the NBA All-Star weekend the Globe and Mail reported: “Village informers. Re-education camps. Networks of spies on the streets. Routine surveillance of the entire population. The crushing of the independent media and all political opposition. A ruler who changes the constitution to extend his power after ruling for two decades. It sounds like North Korea, or the totalitarian days of China under Mao. But this is the African nation of Rwanda — a long-time favourite of Western governments and a major beneficiary of millions of dollars in Canadian government support.”

Previously Toronto Star Board Chair John Honderich published a commentary in his paper headlined “No freedom for press in Rwanda.” The 2007 story noted that the government “ordered the summary firing of the Sunday editor of the country’s only daily for publishing an unflattering photo of the president ... the president’s office only wants their man shown in command and in the middle of the photo ... All this happened days after a fledgling new newspaper, called The Weekly Post, was shut down by the government after its first issue.”

Ujiri’s public “friendship” with Kagame has been taking place amidst growing recognition of Kagame’s violence. A 2015 National Post headline noted: “Rwandan intelligence agents harassing opponents in Canada, border service says” while the Star published stories that year titled: “Toronto lawyer claims he’s target of death threat from Rwandan government” and “Four other Canadians believe they’re being targeted by Rwanda.” Since 2014 the Globe and Mail has published at least eight front-page reports about Kagame’s international assassination program and responsibility for blowing up the plane carrying Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, which triggered mass killings in April 1994. Two months ago the Globe added important details to the abundance of evidence suggesting Kagame is the individual most responsible for unleashing the hundred days of genocidal violence by downing a plane carrying two presidents and much of the Rwandan military high command.

For that incident alone Kagame has as much African blood on his hands as any other individual alive. But, the undisputed “military genius” also played an important role in toppling governments in Kampala in 1986 and Kinshasa in 1997. After the latter effort Rwandan forces reinvaded the Congo, which sparked an eight-country war that left millions dead between 1998 and 2003. In October 2010, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report on the Congo spanning 1993 to 2003 that charged Rwandan troops with engaging in mass killings “that might be classified as crimes of genocide.”

Since then Rwandan proxies have repeatedly re-invaded the mineral rich eastern Congo. In 2012 The Globe and Mail described how “Rwandan sponsored” M23 rebels “hold power by terror and violence” there.

Kagame is not a Giant of Africa. He’s a ruthless dictator with the blood of millions on his hands. The Raptors disgrace themselves and the memory of Nelson Mandela by associating with him.

Yves Engler is the author of 10 books, including Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation expectation.

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Save the World - Peace Poster 1969


Save the World - Peace Poster 1969
Artist: Yevgeny V. Abezgus (1933-1980)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

National Liberation Front of South Vietnam Founded, December 20, 1960

On December 20, 1960 the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF) was formed to fight for the "national union of the entire population of South Vietnam...with the view of overthrowing the yoke of the U.S. and their lackeys" (from Chronology of the Vietnam War, Democratic Republic of Vietnam Commission for the Investigation of US Imperialists' War Crimes in Vietnam.)

The NLF issued a proclamation that had ten central points including demands for independence, land reform, equality for women and minorities and the reunification of Vietnam. (For the full ten points see scans below.)

Despite the countless war crimes and criminal bombings and invasion by the forces of American imperialism the Vietnamese people would triumph and liberate South Vietnam in 1975.

(Click on scans to enlarge)




The full program can be found at: 


You'll Be Avenged My Child

Further Readings:

U.S. Crimes in Vietnam: Embattled Vietnam 1967

U.S. Crimes in Vietnam Book 1 - The Biggest War Criminals in Our Era 1967

U.S. Crimes in Vietnam Book 2, 1967

Tricontinental Magazine Looks at the Vietnam War, 1972 - Part One "The Call of the Hour"

Tricontinental Magazine Looks at the Vietnam War, 1972 - Part Two "To Unite the Entire People"

The Art of Resistance: Sketches of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front 1964 - 1965 Part I

The Art of Resistance: Sketches of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front 1964 - 1966 Part II

Farley Mowat Speaks Out on Canada's Role in Vietnam, 1966

The Land that Was Burning Reconstructs -- Canadian Aid For Vietnam Civilians, 1976


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Leader -- Chinese Karl Marx Anime Bio Trailer


The trailer for the new Chinese anime bio series about the life of Karl Marx has been loaded up to You Tube and it looks interesting.

As The South China Morning Post states:
The Leader, which recounts the story of the German philosopher and socialist revolutionary, will be broadcast by Bilibili.com “soon”, the company said on Tuesday.
The production was commissioned by the central government’s Marxism office, in cooperation with authorities in Inner Mongolia; Weiming Culture Media, which is based in the region; and animation company Dongmantang, Bilibili said on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service.
We look forward to checking it out!



If the English language subtitles are not showing up press on the CC symbol.

Phil Ochs, American Folk Legend b. December 19, 1940 w. Love Me, I'am a Liberal, When I'm Gone & There But For Fortune


Legendary American Folk Singer Phil Ochs, born December 19, 1940

- Won't see the golden of the sun when I'm gone
And the evenings and the mornings will be one when I'm gone
Can't be singing louder than the guns when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here

All my days won't be dances of delight when I'm gone
And the sands will be shifting from my sight when I'm gone
Can't add my name into the fight while I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here

And I won't be laughing at the lies when I'm gone
And I can't question how or when or why when I'm gone
Can't live proud enough to die when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here


- It is wrong to expect a reward for your struggles. The reward is the act of struggle itself, not what you win. Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life.

- Call it "Peace" or call it "Treason,"
Call it "Love" or call it "Reason,"
But I ain't marchin' any more.

- In every American community there are varying shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals. An outspoken group on many subjects. Ten degrees to the left of center in good times. Ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally.

Phil Ochs died April 9, 1976