Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bogus versus real 'scandals', the difficult road to an NDP majority and other news -- The Left Chapter Ontario Provincial Election Roundup Week Three

With eight days to go until election day the polls, on balance, show a statistical dead heat between the Conservatives and the NDP in Ontario. Wynne's Liberal government seems all but certain to lose the June 7 vote -- in fact, they face the very real prospect of decimation -- while the NDP appears to have held their position in the minds of voters as the progressive alternative to the dangerous Ford agenda.

With the NDP in this position -- and even ahead of the Conservatives in some surveys -- various media outlets have hurled a series of micro-"scandals" their way that, for the most part, are totally absurd and reek of desperation.

Of greater concern for those who want to see Ford lose, though, is that if the NDP and Conservatives are really neck-and-neck, both with levels of support in the high 30s, the path to a Ford majority is far clearer and more likely than the path to a Horwath one.

In this, the third of our weekly The Left Chapter round-ups we look at this past week's themes, news and developments.

Should Horwath be walking away with this?

While the ONDP has risen rather dramatically in the polls since the writ dropped, there is ample evidence that had they been running on a platform that was more inspiring and was not simply a tiny smidgen to the "left" of the Liberal one they could very well be walking away with this election right now.

For example, as Supriya Dwivedi noted on Global: 
A new poll by Ipsos conducted exclusively for Global News has found that a significant number of NDP voters, 46 per cent, are voting for the NDP in order to keep another party out of power. In other words, the NDP is benefitting from the unpopularity of the other two options, and seeming like the least bad option.
We have noted this dynamic at play in the past as well.

The difficult path to an NDP victory

Some polls have the NDP slightly ahead, while others have them slightly behind the Conservatives. Another poll has the NDP more significantly ahead. For reasons that will become clear shortly, folks wanting to see Ford stopped had best hope that this last one is the closest to the truth.

According to the CBC's poll tracker the NDP sits at 36.2% while the Conservatives are at 35.7%. Yet despite this the CBC projects a 70% likelihood of a Ford majority if these numbers are accurate.

Why?

Éric Grenier's excellent article, What the 1990 election can - and can't - tell us about the Ontario NDP's chances today, which is worth reading in full, outlines this very well:
Despite the relatively close margin between the PCs and the NDP in the polls, the Poll Tracker still heavily favours the PCs to win a majority government.
This is because the PC vote is more efficient — the party has a better base of support and is ahead in the Greater Toronto Area, where nearly half the seats in the province are located.
The projections suggest that for the New Democrats to win even a slim majority, they may need a lead of three to five points over the PCs provincewide.
In 1990, however, the New Democrats won a comfortable majority — nearly 40 seats ahead of Peterson's Liberals — despite beating the Liberals in the popular vote by only five per cent.
One of the factors contributing to the NDP's 1990 majority win (something even Rae at the time didn't see coming) was the presence of two small right-wing parties.
The Family Coalition and the Confederation of Regions (COR) parties combined for nearly five per cent of the vote provincewide in 1990. In 11 ridings, the combined vote of the Family Coalition and the COR was greater than the margin between the losing PC and winning NDP candidates.
Had enough of these votes gone to the PCs instead, the NDP would have fallen just short of a majority. The split on the right made the NDP's vote more efficient than it otherwise would have been.
Though there are several smaller right-of-centre parties running in this election, none are expected to have the same kind of impact. If they did, the NDP's chances of winning a majority government in 2018 would be better.
The disturbing reality is that Ford could win a substantial majority with a vote as low as 35-37% while the ONDP is very unlikely to.

Ludicrous NDP "scandals" while the Conservatives face real ones

Various right-wing media outlets across the province, most notably the Toronto Sun, have been seeming to try to derail the NDP's momentum with a variety of absurd micro-"scandals" that are so silly they reek of desperation.

Examples include digging up an allegedly shared meme on Facebook implying that an NDP candidate is sympathetic to Nazism when she very clearly is not, and finding a photo of an NDP candidate holding a sign at a rally a decade ago that read "Fuck the Police" -- a sentiment which many people, especially in marginalized and racialized communities have had every reason to express over the years, though Horwath and her candidate, of course, disavowed it. 

These alleged "gotcha" moments are isolated and either from many years ago or taken out of context and mean quite a bit less than, say, The Ford family’s history with drug dealing as outlined in a Globe and Mail expose in 2013 or a Conservative candidate saying "I think if someone wants to open a business and only hire people of one race...I think they should have that right" as recently as 2015.

Meanwhile, right now during the election an "Ontario PC Candidate Shares Theory Linking Schools and Hospitals to Secret ‘Globalist’ Conspiracy" while another "Carleton PC candidate says she doesn't believe climate change is man-made".

Further, of course, we saw the "Liberals claim Ford participated in 'bogus' membership sales, intimidated a PC nominee", which is a very serious allegation. This led to the farce of "Doug Ford dodges journalists before fleeing Brantford event through the back door".

I think to an objective observer it is perfectly clear which are the "scandals" actually worth paying attention to.

Buck a beer

You know a campaign is both very concerned and reaching low when:


The tweet and meme was met, rightly, with considerable derision.

Doug Ford releases detailed platform

Crickets.

Dumbest move of the election award

Memo to anyone, from any party, running anywhere, ever...this is something you should never do:

Liberal candidate crashes NDP Leader Andrea Horwath campaign event in Etobicoke

Further news/articles of interest about the campaign:

Letter from the Co-Chairs of the Danforth Jewish Circle, Multifaith Committee about NDP candidate Tasleem Raiz

This White Nationalist Says Doug Ford is Sending Him Anti-Immigrant ‘Dog Whistle’ Messages

Horwath announces three weeks of paid vacation for full-time workers

Ontario election path to victory runs through the 905

See also: Horwath rises as Ford stumbles and other news -- The Left Chapter Ontario Provincial Election Roundup Week Two

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Submission to Right Honourable J. Diefenbaker and Cabinet by National Unemployment Lobby Committee, April 24, 1961

Vintage Leftist Leaflet Project

See the end of this post for details on the project.

Leaflet: Submission to Right Honourable J. Diefenbaker and Cabinet by National Unemployment Lobby Committee, April 24, 1961

Calling unemployment at the time a "national emergency" this submission by the National Unemployment Lobby Committee to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet in 1961 looks at the stark reality faced by the jobless at the time.

This was a Canada prior to the liberalization of Unemployment Insurance in 1971, prior to universal medical coverage in every province and prior even to 40 hour work week laws. 

The submission outlines a number of solutions, including proposals from the Canadian Labour Congress and the Ontario Federation of Labour. It also talks about issues around housing, the threat of deportation that hung over unemployed immigrants and the need for higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, among other things. 

Finally it exposes the common refrain of reactionaries that the unemployed are somehow simply "lazy"as well as Pierre Berton's response that such an opinion is "pure, unadulterated hogwash".  

(Click on scans to enlarge)






















When The Left Chapter began part of what I wanted to do on the blog was to show and highlight vintage public leftist election/political leaflets and booklets. While many of these have been offered with commentary to date, a very large collection of hundreds of them from several different sources remains and to preserve these often quite rare documents we will be posting them on a regular (almost daily) basis now often without or with minimal commentary so that people may have access to them as quickly as possible as an historical resource. 

While these will all be leaflets from a variety of different leftist viewpoints and countries, they are being posted as an historical/study resource and the views or opinions expressed in them do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or blogger.

All of these posts (as well as posts made to date) will be listed on the page: Vintage Communist/Socialist Leaflets (which is still being updated with past posts).

If you have any public, vintage leaflets or booklets you would like to contribute to this project please contact us via theleftchapter@outlook.com

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Better Ontario is Possible!, Socialist Party of Ontario

Vintage Leftist Leaflet Project

See the end of this post for details on the project.

Leaflet: A Better Ontario is Possible!, Socialist Party of Ontario 

The Socialist Party of Ontario was formed on May 28, 2011 in Toronto and ran candidates in two provincial elections. 

As I wrote five years later in the piece On the 5th anniversary of the founding of the Socialist Party of Ontario the need for a new party has never been greater :
"Based around putting the supposed egalitarianism of socialism into action, it was created as a leaderless party whose intent was to allow for the flowering of a real collective and democratic approach to party policy and governance.

It also adopted an unashamedly and avowedly democratic socialist platform."
While not as "vintage" as many of the leaflets posted here, this was the SPO's general leaflet printed in 2012 that outlined many of the party's most important policies as well as its general philosophy. 

Its central slogans were "A Better Ontario is Possible" and "A New Ontario: Community, Diversity, Solidarity, Justice" under the banner "Socialism, Democracy, Feminism, Equality". 

If you are interested in reading more about the party its platform and constitution can still be found online. 

(Click on scans to enlarge)





When The Left Chapter began part of what I wanted to do on the blog was to show and highlight vintage public leftist election/political leaflets and booklets. While many of these have been offered with commentary to date, a very large collection of hundreds of them from several different sources remains and to preserve these often quite rare documents we will be posting them on a regular (almost daily) basis now often without or with minimal commentary so that people may have access to them as quickly as possible as an historical resource. 

While these will all be leaflets from a variety of different leftist viewpoints and countries, they are being posted as an historical/study resource and the views or opinions expressed in them do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or blogger.

All of these posts (as well as posts made to date) will be listed on the page: Vintage Communist/Socialist Leaflets (which is still being updated with past posts).


If you have any public, vintage leaflets or booklets you would like to contribute to this project please contact us via theleftchapter@outlook.com

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Nicolas Maduro Wins, Ireland Votes to Repeal the 8th, the Ontario Election & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List May 20-27

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  May 20 - 27. It is generally in order of the date of the article's release.

There are two articles from prior to the period included. They have been integrated into the post.

1) Venezuela: After Victory, Maduro Calls for Lasting Dialogue

Telesur

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for a lasting dialogue with all the country's opposition parties and for citizens to leave behind the strife and make way for reconciliation with all sectors of the country.

Read the full article.


2) Brazil's Left Congratulates Maduro, Denounces US, Lima Group

Telesur

Brazil’s Workers' Party (PT) and its Communist Party of Brazil congratulated Maduro and slammed the U.S. and Lima Group for inciting government overthrows like Temer did.

Read the full article.

3) Maduro Declares Top US Diplomat 'Persona Non Grata,' Gives Him 48 Hours to Leave

Telesur

Maduro,  in rejection of Washington's interventionist policies, has given Chargé d'Affaires Todd Robinson 48 hours to leave Venezuela.

Read the full article.

4) Ten attempts to destabilize the recently re-elected Venezuelan government

 Iramsy Peraza Forte, Granma

While thousands of people gathered around Miraflores Presidential Palace to greet the re-election of President Nicolás Maduro, opposition sectors, the United States, the European Union and the Latin American right launched a predictable destabilization plan against the most recent democratic electoral process undertaken on Sunday, May 20, in Venezuela.

Read the full article.

5) The United States’ Hand in Undermining Democracy in Venezuela

Alexander Main, Canadian Dimension

The Trump administration’s foreign policy toward Venezuela includes supporting a boycott of Sunday’s elections in Venezuela, hinting at the possibility of a coup, and enacting harmful economic sanctions, with consequences for democracy in the country beset by poverty and unrest.

Read the full article.

6) Palestinian Liberation Group Congratulates President Maduro

Telesur

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said, they will "never forget" support they received from the Venezuelan government.

Read the full article.

7) 'World is Not Trump's Estate': Bolivia's Evo Morales Condemns US Sanctions on Venezuela

Telesur

"We condemn the unilateral decision that imposes a new economic blockade to suffocate the Venezuelan people, in retaliation for having defeated the coup, boycott against President Nicolas Maduro democratically. Trump must understand that the world is not his estate," Morales said in a tweet posted late Monday.

Read the full article.

8) New bill will give ultra-secret spy agency extensive powers

Yves Engler, Canadian Dimension

The Trudeau government is seeking to empower an influential, if little-known, arm of Canadian imperialism.

Read the full article.

9) Pro-war pundits on US airwaves

Various Contributors, Al Jazeera

In 2008, the New York Times revealed a secret Pentagon programme which trained and briefed former military generals to push pro-Pentagon talking points to a compliant news media. Today, former military personnel are still regular contributors on every major cable news network despite some of them being the very same figures who pushed for the Iraq war.

Read the full article.

10) Death in the sun: Australia's 88-day law leaves backpackers exploited and exposed

Anne Davies, The Guardian

The 2017 death of Olivier Caramin joins a growing list of problems backpackers can face in rural jobs, including rape, harassment and underpayment.

Read the full article.

11) Supreme Court Decision Delivers Blow To Workers' Rights

Nina Totenberg, NPR

In a case involving the rights of tens of millions of private sector employees, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, delivered a major blow to workers, ruling for the first time that workers may not band together to challenge violations of federal labor laws.

Read the full article.

12) Bosses win, workers lose in High Court arbitration ruling

Mark Gruenberg, People's World

Bosses won and workers – especially non-union workers – lost when the 5-man GOP-named majority on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled mandatory arbitration trumps workers’ rights.

Read the full article.

13) 'Who are you?' Iran hits back at US demands

Al Jazeera

President Rouhani rejects US demands while Iran's foreign minister dismisses Pompeo's conditions as 'sham' diplomacy.

Read the full article.

14) No Plan B: New US demands on Iran 'set stage for war'

 Zaheena Rasheed, Al Jazeera

New Iran strategy harks back to decades of failed US policy and raises spectre of conflict in Middle East, critics say.

Read the full article.

15) Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study

Damian Carrington, The Guardian

The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.

Read the full article.

16) Facing the Past in Montgomery: Beyond the Nakba to historical justice

 Sandra Tamari, Mondoweiss

Rain had fallen the night before in Montgomery, Alabama. We had traveled there to visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, an ambitious project by the Equal Justice Initiative to give witness to formerly enslaved Black people terrorized by lynching in the South.  By the time we made our way to the newly landscaped memorial site, a brilliant sun and clear skies were heating the earth. We entered the solemn space, heavy with mourning for the over 4,400 people who were executed simply because they were Black. The memorial is composed of hundreds of steel monuments. As we made our way through the memorial, we recognized a hauntingly familiar scent. Steel, as it rusts, smells like blood.

Read the full article.

17) Benefit sanctions found to be ineffective and damaging

Patrick Butler, The Guardian

Benefit sanctions are ineffective at getting jobless people into work and are more likely to reduce those affected to poverty, ill-health or even survival crime, the UK’s most extensive study of welfare conditionality has found.

Read the full article.

18) 'Be realistic, demand the impossible!'

C J Polychroniou, Al Jazeera

This week, 50 years ago, France was going through the biggest labour strike in its history. Two-thirds of its labour force were out in the streets demanding better working conditions. Workers had taken control of factories, set up barricades, organised sit-ins and fought off attempts by the police to disperse them. Thousands of students who had rebelled against conservative university administrations had also joined them.

Read the full article.

19) Ontario election campaign brings focus on nearly 2 million people living in poverty

Laurie Monsebraaten, The Toronto Star

As Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne, Green party Leader Mike Schreiner and representatives from the Progressive Conservatives and NDP watched from the front row, Lawless and other anti-poverty activists called on all parties to make Ontario a fair and equitable place where everyone belongs.

Read the full article.


20) Austria cracks down on far-right Identitarian Movement

Patrick Strickland, Al Jazeera

A slew of charges against several members of the far-right Identitarian Movement in Austria could be a "major blow" to the organisation's ability to mobilise, experts and analysts say.

Read the full article.


21) Indigenous and female: Idaho gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan making history

Mark Maxey, People's World

A fierce sense of urgency prompted Paulette Jordan to run for governor of Idaho. Her brazen approach worked with her Democratic primary run last Tuesday, May 15th. It will be a first on two levels if she wins in November—as a female governor and as an Indigenous tribal member. Jordan belongs to the Schitsu’umsh, Coeur d’Alene Nation. Schitsu’umsh translates to “Those who were found here.”

Read the full article. 

22) Almost half of Toronto tenants paying ‘unaffordable’ rent, study finds

Emily Mathieu, The Toronto Star

Almost half of Toronto tenants are paying too much in rent and are one health emergency or lost job away from losing their homes, in a city where rental rules favour profits over people, according to a new study.

Read the full article.

23) PROSECUTORS WITHHELD EVIDENCE THAT COULD EXONERATE J20 INAUGURATION PROTESTERS, JUDGE RULES

Sam Adler-Bell, The Intercept

CHIEF JUDGE Robert E. Morin of the D.C. Superior Court found on Wednesday that federal prosecutors suppressed potentially exculpatory evidence against six Inauguration Day protesters. In a motion filed late last night, attorneys for the defendants accused the government of withholding evidence that could have exonerated their clients — a serious violation of pretrial discovery rules. Attorneys allege that the state withheld evidence by editing a video of a protest planning meeting. Defense attorneys called on the court to sanction Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff for “blatant hiding of evidence” and requested that the indictment against their clients be dismissed.

Read the full article.


24) Kaepernick Effect: NFL Bans Players From Kneeling During Anthem

Telesur

The owners of NFL teams agreed on a new policy banning players from kneeling down when the national anthem is played, directly aiming at protests against police brutality and racism that were the center of national debate in 2016 after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kicked off the peaceful protest.

Read the full article.

25) NFL’s new anthem policy shows what a gutless lot its owners are

Shree Paradkar, The Toronto Star

“Winning,” tweeted U.S. vice-president Mike Pence on Wednesday, with an emoji of the American flag, soon after the National Football League owners stooped just low enough to brown their noses.

Read the full article.

26) Free public transport is launched across Estonia

Euronews

Estonia is set to implement free transport for its residents across much of the country as of July 1. The free fare zone will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Read the full article.

27) DEEP IN TRUMP COUNTRY, A DEMOCRATIC POPULIST IS FACING OFF AGAINST A COUNTRY CLUB REPUBLICAN

Lee Fang, The Intercept

A BIG PART of Carol Miller’s campaign to represent West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District in Washington was to present herself to voters as carbon copy of President Donald Trump. A senior state-level lawmaker, Miller spent big on television spots declaring her loyalty to the president and repeating his campaign promises to build a wall and cut foreign aid — now cast as part of Miller’s “America first” principles. The pro-Trump rhetoric helped Miller clinch the May 8 primary for the congressional seat, emerging victorious from a field of seven candidates by a slim 1,616-vote margin.

Read the full article.


28) Indian police accused of killing at least 11 protesters

 Zeenat Saberin, Al Jazeera

Rights groups and residents demanded an investigation after police in southern India opened fire and killed at least 11 people during a protest over alleged environmental pollution by a UK-owned copper smelter.

Read the full article.

29) Israel detains Palestinian teen with severe head injury, again

Jaclynn Ashly, Mondoweiss

As Mohammad Tamimi, 15, walked to the market near his home in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh Sunday morning, he passed by a new white Hyundai.

Read the full article.

30) The plight of farm workers in Canada

Lois Ross, Rabble

The days are long, and the physical work can be heavy and exhausting. Often, particularly on smaller family farms, the monetary rewards are nowhere near what a regular urban salary provides.

Read the full article.

31) Abrams wins in Georgia; could be first black female governor

John Wojcik, People's World

Stacey Abrams, a declared supporter of the national resistance to Trump, handily defeated Stacey Evans in Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial primary yesterday. Abrams, considered the “insurgent” candidate, will make history in November if she becomes the nation’s first black female governor and Georgia’s first woman governor.

Read the full article.


32) Ontario PC candidate Andrew Lawton: gender and racial discrimination should be legal

Press Progress

"I think if someone wants to open a business and only hire people of one race...I think they should have that right."

Read the full article.


33) Landmark study reveals ‘clear evidence’ of mercury’s toll on health in Grassy Narrows

Jayme Poisson & David Bruser, The Toronto Star

More than four decades after mercury was dumped upstream from Grassy Narrows First Nation, the physical and mental health of the people there is by many key measures “considerably worse” than that of other First Nations in Canada, according to a landmark new government-funded survey.

Read the full article.

34) Liberals claim Ford participated in 'bogus' membership sales, intimidated a PC nominee

City News

The Ontario Liberal party alleges that audio it says it obtained and verified shows Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford broke election rules by participating in “bogus” membership sales for his party’s nomination in Etobicoke Centre in 2016.

Read the full article.

35) Talk to Deliveroo couriers. See a dystopia that could be your future

Owen Jones, The Guardian

A Black Mirror existence: that’s how trade unionist Mags Dewhurst describes working as a rider for Deliveroo, the pre-eminent online food-delivery company. Here is a story of workers branded as entrepreneurs, which has the effect of stripping away their rights; of a race to the bottom in terms and conditions; of being managed by algorithms and apps. I sit with five Deliveroo couriers in the headquarters of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), a union that has successfully fought for particularly low-paid migrant workers. They are currently classed as self-employed independent contractors, or cycling micro-businesses, and therefore lack rights all workers should be able to take for granted: the minimum wage, paid holidays, pensions, protection from discrimination, and trade union rights.

Read the full article.

36) Workers ready to shut down entire Vegas strip

Mark Gruenberg, People's World

Las Vegas casino owners’ threats to subcontract or automate thousands of workers’ jobs – among other issues — forced the workers, employed by Unite Here Locals 226 and 165, to vote almost unanimously to authorize a strike if bargainers fail to agree on a new pact by June 1.

Read the full article.

37) Elon Musk Blasts Labor Unions: They 'Destroyed Once Great US Auto Industry'

Sahid Fawaz, Labor 411

Tesla's CEO is on a rampage against labor unions as he fights to keep workers from organizing.

Read the full article.


38) Haifa activists vow to continue protests following ‘brutal’ police crackdown

Jaclynn Ashly, Mondoweiss

Enraged and saddened by images from Gaza last week, when the Israeli military killed at least 62 people in a single day, Palestinian citizens of Israel protested on Friday in the coastal city of Haifa to demand an end to Israeli violence and the more than decade-long siege that has strangled Gaza into a humanitarian crisis.

Read the full article.


39) Brazil Comes to Halt as Truck Drivers Strike for 4th Day

Telesur

Truck drivers in Brazil have entered their fourth day of strike, blocking major highways in at least 24 states, including the Federal District. The move comes despite Petrobras, the state-owned oil company, temporarily cutting diesel prices by 10 percent on Wednesday in an attemp to curb the protests.

Read the full article.

40) The failed Trump-Kim summit: the story of a trainwreck foretold

Julian Borger, The Guardian

The short, turbulent history of the Trump-Kim summit, from its surprise announcement in March to its abrupt cancellation on Thursday, is the chronicle of a trainwreck foretold.

Read the full article.

41) North and South Korean leaders meet as US indicates summit may yet happen

Benjamin Haas and Lauren Gambino, The Guardian

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, met his South Korean counterpart on Saturday, two days after Donald Trump cancelled a planned summit with Kim.

Read the full article.

42) Carleton PC candidate says she doesn't believe climate change is man-made

Matthew Kupfer · CBC News

The Ontario PC candidate for Carleton said she doesn't believe climate change is man-made at an all-candidates forum in the south Ottawa community of Greely Wednesday night.

Read the full article.


43) The electoral system is designed to serve the powers that be

Nicolas Lalaguna, The Morning Star

Those who seek radical change must be aware that the ruling class that has used violence and coercion to control the working people of Britain for centuries.

Read the full article.

44) Donald Trump’s Words Are a Green Light to Dictators and Torturers Around the World

Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept

DONALD TRUMP’S WORDS are no laughing matter. They get people in faraway countries tortured, raped, and killed.

Read the full article.


45) Unjust US blockade cost Cuba over $130 billion

Michael Kowalchuk, Liberation

In a stunning vindication of the Cuban government’s assertions that the Cuban economy has been drastically distorted due to the aggressive foreign policy of the United States, the head of a UN agency visiting the island confirmed that the U.S. blockade of Cuba has cost the country over $130 billion in the past 56 years.

Read the full article.

46) Letter from the Co-Chairs of the Danforth Jewish Circle, Multifaith Committee about NDP candidate Tasleem Raiz

Medium

As Jews, we believe that allegations of Anti-Semitism and hate against any group should be taken very seriously. In this case, the accusations against Tasleem are a dishonest distraction being spread for political reasons. We do not know what caused this photo to be shared on her Facebook profile, although false information has certainly been spread on the internet and social media before. We certainly do know Tasleem Riaz’s true character: she is a woman of integrity, compassion, and respect for all faiths and cultures.

Read the full article.

47) Marxism: More relevant than ever

John Bachtell, People's World

Communist Party USA leader John Bachtell will address the international conference “Marxism of the 21st Century and the Future of World Socialism,” sponsored by the Communist Party of China on May 28 in Shenzhen. This is the text of his remarks, as prepared for presentation.

Read the full article.

48) The Social Shaming of Racists Is Working

Laila Lalami, The Nation

Now, when white people assert private authority over public space, there’s a cost.

Read the full article.

49) U.S. LAW CUTTING AID TO PALESTINIANS PUNISHES ANY AND ALL RESISTANCE TO ISRAELI OCCUPATION

Henriette Chacar, The Intercept

BASHAR MASALHA LAY subdued on a strip of grass along the beachfront promenade of Jaffa, Israel, the ancient Mediterranean port that was swallowed up by the development of Tel Aviv. The injured Masalha was under the gun of an Israeli volunteer police officer. Onlookers cheered the officer on, urging him to shoot Masalha in the head. Seconds later, shots rang out. Masalha was dead. Some bystanders congratulated the officer, but one yelled, “Stop it! He’s lying there neutralized, why shoot for no reason?”

Read the full article.

50) The women of Kurdistan stand in solidarity with the women of Ireland – and call for a Yes vote to Repeal the 8th

Rosa Gilbert, The Morning Star

AS Ireland prepares for its referendum tomorrow on the constitutional amendment prohibiting free, safe, legal abortion, women and health workers in Rojava have expressed their solidarity with Irish women’s right to choose.

Read the full article.

51) Ireland has changed utterly: the cruel eighth amendment is history

Ivana Bacik, The Guardian

Ireland has spoken – and we have made history. The clause inserted into our constitution in 1983 that bestowed on the “unborn” a right to life equal to that of a pregnant woman can at last be removed. Exit polls project and official results are expected to confirm later on Saturday that the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment has been passed by a resounding majority.

Read the full article.


52) TRUMP’S GAG RULE WOULD PRESSURE MEDICAL PROVIDERS TO WITHHOLD INFORMATION ON ABORTION AND BIRTH CONTROL

Jordan Smith, The Intercept

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION launched its latest attack on women’s rights this week, introducing a so-called domestic gag rule for providers that receive Title X family planning funding. The rule would encourage providers to withhold potentially life-saving medical information from their patients and bar them from referring patients to an abortion provider. It also seeks to cut the single largest provider of Title X services, Planned Parenthood, from participating in the program altogether.

Read the full article.

53) Venezuela: 'Colombia Joining NATO A Threat To Regional Peace'

Telesur

Venezuela has rejected the announcement by Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos that his country will be entering the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as a "global partner."

Read the full article.

54) CP Rail union formally serves strike notice

CBC/Radio-Canada

Union members representing Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd's conductors, locomotive engineers and communications employees have served a notice to strike as early as May 29, according to a union statement released on Saturday.

Read the full article.

55) Colombia: Can leftist Gustavo Petro become president?

Alessandro Rampietti, Al Jazeera

Even if he doesn't become Colombia's first-ever leftist president, Gustavo Petro has already made history by managing to arrive alive at Sunday's vote.

Read the full article.

See also: Gaza Massacre, Trump Pulls Out of Iran Deal, Venezuela & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List May 13-20

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Karma's Kitchen food truck makes a welcome appearance in Long Branch

Recently I spotted the food truck of the east end restaurant Karma's Kitchen at the intersection of Kipling and Lake Shore Blvd. W. right by Colonel Sam Smith park.

After trying several of their menu items I am very glad that I did.

Karma's Kitchen specializes in Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian Cuisine. Their permanent address is at 1411 Gerrard St East near Coxwell. You can find their full menu at their website.

The food truck menu, of course, is more limited with 8 options. What is on offer, though, is top notch.

The menu ranges price wise from vegetarian spring rolls at 5 for $4 to skewered seasoned chicken served on a bed of french fries at $8.

You can get Butter Chicken or Curry Chicken on Spring Rice each for $7. The curry chicken was excellent with moist meat, a tasty sauce and generous portions. It is pictured below with some of the homemade hot sauce.

Curry Chicken on Spring Rice: $7
One of Karma's Kitchen's specialties according to the very friendly man who was working the truck window is the Tibetan style of dumpling the Momo.

On the truck you can get 5 dumplings served either deep fried or in a gravy for $7. We tried both. (There is also a third, steamed dumpling option without sauce).

Momos in Gravy: $7

The Momos in Gravy is a straight-up home run with a flavourful chicken filling (there is a vegetarian option) while the gravy is absolutely delicious. It is pictured above with both some of the homemade hot and the homemade sweet sauce.

The deep fried option is great too as are their samosas. The samosas are vegetarian, 5 for $4 and a nice size with a satisfying texture and seasoning.

Samosas 5 for $4  / Deep Fried Momos 5 for $7
Everything goes well with their fiery, homemade hot sauce. Don't forget to try some, it is really good.

The truck's server told me that they plan to be at Kipling and Lake Shore for weekday lunches for possibly a couple more weeks. Whether they are there or move to a new spot, the truck is well worth seeking out.

He also told me that the restaurant has many different versions of momos as you can see online.

I think a trip to the east end to try these out is in order in the near future. I will be sure to report back.

See also: Trini Gardens Brings Excellent West Indian - Chinese Fusion to South Etobicoke

See also: Kothur Indian Cuisine's fantastic lunch special in Mimico

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Vote NDP to stop Ford...but don't try to sell it as supporting a leftist agenda

As the ONDP led by centrist neo-liberal Andrea Horwath rises to new heights in the polls thanks to being seen as the "least bad" alternative to the Doug Ford insanity or the history of corruption by the Liberals, one salient question remains.


Why on earth are some leftists lining up enthusiastically to support her after her history as leader and the ONDP's transparently opportunistic stances that only the careerists and the willfully blind cannot see through?

How can leftists be excited -- except about the idea that Ford might be defeated --with the possible election of a party and leader entirely of the same ilk as Dexter, Notley, Horgan, Romanow and Doer?

Is Horwath a better alternative to Ford? Unquestionably so.

Is she better than Wynne? Given the circumstances, perhaps mildly. Especially if she seems likely to stop Ford, which she now might due to a fluke of circumstance.

Can she or an ONDP government be trusted to deliver anything remotely like their already mundane platform let alone a left agenda?

Only if you are dreaming in an election group think haze induced orange.

The ONDP platform is, at best, a tiny smidgen to the "left" of Wynne's. Much of this platform -- including the atrocious, gets worse as you read the details, vague, phased in, means tested childcare plank -- was clearly drawn up on office napkins when these least imaginative of all social democrats were caught off guard by announcements by a liberal party they wish they could replace.

Even her most outwardly "left" plank of bringing back Hydro One into public hands is based on a nonsensical, years long "buy back" formula and will have little immediate impact on hydro rates which anyone who knows anything about how they are set would understand.

But why advocate for an actually radical vision of public ownership of a utility when you can delude folks with a totally nonthreatening one?

The NDP's pharmacare plan does not even approach "universality" while its dental care plan openly eschews it.

"Change for the Better" in this case really means no change at all, just liberal governance without the Liberals. In this specific context that might work well electorally, but it is not leftism.

After her support of two Liberal austerity budgets and her campaign in 2014 how anyone could think Horwath had some conversion to socialism on the road to Toronto is beyond me.

As to those who claim that the Liberals and the Conservatives -- in this era where the right has shifted to the very far right -- are the "same old story" while the NDP are some radical alternative, they are either being intellectually dishonest or are complete idiots. Take your pick.

Any ideological differences between the ONDP and the Liberals are minuscule. They do not even exist in a serious sense. Should Horwath win, it will take exactly no time for this to become apparent.

It is always easier for some leftists to take the lazy route when jumping on another dead end NDP bandwagon as they have done time after time after time -- all while demanding that everyone else also drop their critical lens to join the mindless stampede to nowhere new -- claiming "this incarnation will be different", than to take the intellectually consistent and honest step of  saying, "no it won't" even if advocating for a tactical NDP vote.

It won't be different.

You can rest assured, and so can Bay St., that should the NDP sweep to power on June 7th, little will change, especially versus the Wynne agenda of the last year or so.

There is a segment -- sadly rather sizable at times like this -- of the Ontario left that like to talk a good game about folks like Corbyn or Mélenchon, the need for the type of serious socialist politics we see emerging in so many other countries, the need to get past the old patterns of a fundamentally bankrupt and undemocratic NDP, but who then line up to bleat out like sheep in support of transparently third way leaders like Horwath.

They talk radical two years out but tow straight-up centrist lines at election time and demand everyone else do as well. They claim those who remain critical are somehow trying to undermine something noble or are cynics.

Yet there is nothing more cynical than trying to sell what the NDP is peddling as a seriously different or compelling radical vision for "change".

Vote NDP to stop Ford if that makes sense for you in whatever community you are in.

But don't try to pretend this is a vote for anything other than a liberal platform from a party that will govern in exactly the way such a platform implies.

See also: Horwath rises as Ford stumbles and other news -- The Left Chapter Ontario Provincial Election Roundup Week Two

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Horwath rises as Ford stumbles and other news -- The Left Chapter Ontario Provincial Election Roundup Week Two


While not the total fiasco out of the gate that was Tim Hudak's rapid derailment of the Conservative campaign in 2014, the scent of scandal and promises and pledges that simply don't add up seem to be putting a dent in what appeared to be an insurmountable Ford lead.


The anti-Ford vote, however, is not coalescing around the Liberals and Wynne but rather around Andrea Horwath and the New Democrats, exposing the bankruptcy of the government's re-election strategy.

As the NDP rises though so too do the attacks on them that are being made from predictable angles aimed at weaknesses of the NDP's own making.

In this, the second of our weekly The Left Chapter round-ups we look at this past week's themes, news and developments.

407 Scandal

There is a deep historical irony that it would be the 407 toll highway -- handed to the private sector for a relative song by Mike Harris in the 90s in one of the worst privatization deals in the history of the country -- that is causing the Conservatives to go off message and stumble just when they looked to be certain to form government again for the first time in 15 years.

Having based their campaign in no small part around the need to clean up alleged Liberal corruption, the dangers of doing so become apparent when scandal begins to hover over your own party and campaign as well.

In this case Ford and the Tories have come under scrutiny after a Brampton candidate was forced to resign due to the alleged inappropriate use of personal data gleaned from 407 users for political purposes. The question is how widespread this was and if other Conservative candidates used the data as well. Police and the province's privacy commissioner have launched investigations.

You can read more about it via these articles:

Police and privacy commission join investigation into Hwy. 407 customer data theft

PC Leader Doug Ford hammered over alleged data theft; police probe urged

Ford faces tough questions as NDP asks for probe into ex-PC candidate's alleged role in data breach

Ontario elections watchdog reviewing PC candidate campaigns

Doug Ford and other PC figures pictured with man at the centre of growing data-theft scandal

For Doug Ford math seems to be hard

When it comes to explaining how he plans to deal with the loss of billions of dollars in government revenues due to his proposed tax cuts of various kinds without slashing public sector jobs and social programs, Doug Ford simply does not have an answer.

Presumably Ford thought he could just coast along like his brother Rob did with pseudo-populist rhetorical nonsense about "gravy trains" and "efficiencies" but it seems Ontarians are paying a little more attention to reality than Torontonians did during the 2010 municipal election.

His so-called "middle class" tax cut -- which unsurprisingly appears to mostly benefit the wealthy -- will cost the province $2.6 billion.

His plans to cut gas taxes and scrap cap-and-trade will lead to the loss of at least $3.2 billion.

Then there is the corporate tax cut. That would see another $1.4 billion vanish. 

How is he going to make up for this lost revenue without a vicious austerity agenda? Who knows?

Ford, of course, has not been willing to seriously answer questions about this from day one. He began the campaign by acting like a defensive bully replying pathetically with “Very simple. You haven’t done it. I’ve done it. That’s the difference. Next question” to CBC reporter Robyn Bresnahan's totally legitimate question about how he could cut as much spending as he claims he can without cutting jobs.

He has been doing the smoke and mirrors deflection routine ever since.

It looks like it may have stopped working.

Related articles:

Doug Ford declines requests to explain his 'nonsense' $469 million estimate

For Ford fact and policy free is the way to go

NDP rises to new heights in polls

The NDP is quickly gaining on the Conservatives according to many recent polls. The CBC poll tracking data has them at 33.4% compared to the Tories at 38%. The Liberals remain mired in the doldrums at 23.1%.

One poll by Ipsos Reid and Global actually had the NDP one point ahead of the Conservatives with 37% support.

This allows the NDP to attempt to position themselves as the strategic, safe progressive alternative to the Conservatives, a strategy that is not without its risks as I touched upon last week.

But Horwath certainly looks to be benefiting from a series of possibly fatal self-inflicted wounds by her opponents and is perhaps becoming the default option for many who find they have nowhere else to go.

Not a bad place to be at this stage.

The public may simply be too tired of the Liberals to consider them, and with another party promising to deliver essentially the same programs -- in some cases in a more robust way, in others differing either slightly or slightly for the worse -- without the same faces and the history, it could be their time is up.

While I do not share his overall ideological perspective Adam Radwanski in the Globe and Mail had a pretty good take on why Horwath may be able fend off the attacks on her by her opponents in his piece:  Why the usual questions about the Ontario NDP’s competence are being set aside

Horwath's 'fiscal responsibility' nonsense comes back to haunt

Speaking of self-inflicted wounds, one that Horwath has brought upon herself is the recent questioning of the NDP's math and budgetary plans due to what was a $1.4 billion annual error in the party's platform.

That being the platform that the NDP and Horwath repeatedly have sought to portray as fully costed and fiscally responsible, displaying a long-held and terribly self-defeating desire by mildly social democratic parties to appear as sound and reliable managers of the bourgeois state.

When you propose a fairly milquetoast, liberal platform that is so similar to the actual Liberal platform that you need a combination of a terrible Conservative leader and a titanically unpopular Premier to get your chance, it is easy to get tripped up by such minutiae. Especially given that it is the NDP themselves who have elevated it to importance with their fetishistic obsession with such neo-liberal policy detail that always proves to be fiction anyway.

Fortunately for them the public could be ready at this particular moment in time to get behind a liberal policy agenda without the Liberals as stated above. If a shift like that is occurring, these voters will likely not care about the error, especially given that Ford throws fictional numbers around daily as well as the long Liberal history of outlandish spending scandals and debacles.

Dave McKee's speech from the Communist Party launch

Ontario's Communist Party leader Dave McKee gave a terrific speech that touched on a number of important points when they launched their campaign in Toronto May 12. I reported on that launch already, but the speech has now been posted and it is definitely worth a listen.




Further news/article of interest about the campaign:

NDP Surges, Doug Ford Opposes Rent Control, Hydro One & more -- The Left Chapter Ontario Provincial Election Roundup Week One

Horwath’s NDP would ‘adjust’ Ontario cap and trade to fight climate-warming pollution

Ontario parties are ducking the issue of public auto insurance

Ontario NDP leader wouldn't introduce corner store sale of beer and wine

Ontario election campaign brings focus on nearly 2 million people living in poverty


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic 1982 - History, Art & Development w. Photos & Illustrations

Gleaned from the pages of the July 1982 issue of the Soviet English language publication Socialism: Theory and Practice are articles and blurbs taking a look at the Kazakh SSR. They review various aspects of its development within the USSR and a brief overview of its art.

It is a truly remarkable story of building industry, educational and scientific facilities, and cultural institutions in a nation that had been subject to the oppressive colonial enforced backwardness of Czarism. 

Interesting aspects touched on include the transformation of the Czarist military outpost Verni into the modern city of Alma-Ata (now Almaty), as well as the evolution of Kazakh painting.

As a bonus we have included some general "Information items" from the same issue such as the creation of a Soviet racing car, the building of a health resort in Lithuania and the construction of an airport in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, that bears a striking resemblance to the core part of the station in the Star Trek TV series Deep Space Nine.

(Click on scans to enlarge)



















See also: Soviet Tourist Ads of the 1960s - "Intourist wishes you happy touring in the USSR"

See also: Visit the USSR - A look at the Soviet Union in the late 1960s from Intourist (w. photos)