Monday, June 24, 2019

Second World War Hero Cities of the USSR w. photos and text Part II

On June 22, 1941 Nazi Germany and its fascist allies launched their genocidal invasion of the Soviet Union. Over the course of what the Soviets called the Great Patriotic War an estimated 26 million of its citizens were killed and the country endured unimaginable devastation.

Despite early retreats and losses the people of the USSR and the Red Army turned the tide against the fascists and eventually drove all the way to Berlin. There can be no doubt that it was the Soviet Union and its people that played the greatest role in winning the Second World War in Europe and did so in the face of the very worst Nazi depravities and barbarism.

In 1965, in honour of the 20th anniversary of the victory. the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR designated Leningrad, Volgograd (Stalingrad), Kiev, Sevastopol, Odessa, and Moscow as Hero Cities for the extraordinary courage, resilience and endurance of their citizens resisting against the Nazis. Brest was declared a Hero Fortress in remembrance of the way its garrison held out for many days, even when surrounded, fighting with ever declining food, water and ammunition to the very last man. In later years the list of Hero Cities would be expanded to include Kerch, Novorossiysk, Minsk, Tula, Murmansk and Smolensk.

In 1975 a book was published honouring the original group of Hero Cities and Brest Fortress. With text in Russian, English, French, Spanish and German it looks at each city story. We see the destruction wrought by the Nazis, the heroism of Soviet resistance and the remarkable recovery and rebuilding in the wake of the war, which is one of the great accomplishments of Soviet socialism. There are many photographs both from the period of the war and then of the monuments, people and rebuilt cities after it.

In this second of two parts we look at the Hero Cities of Sevastopol, Moscow and, of course Volgograd (Stalingrad). It is at Stalingrad that the grave of Nazi Germany first began to be truly dug. In addition to the photos in the book we have also included two more postcard images of the great monument to the fallen at Stalingrad, The Motherland Calls, which is situated atop the strategic height of Mamayev Kurgan that was a focal point of the battle.

We have looked at this before in our post: Mamayev Kurgan -- Taken by Red Army Troops in Stalingrad, January 26, 1943

You can find the first part here: Second World War Hero Cities of the USSR w. photos and text Part I

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Iran Tensions, Police Misconduct, Climate Emergency & more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos June 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 June 16 - 23.

1) Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran

Linn Washington Jr., Counterpunch 

Remember the Vincennes?

That’s the name of the U.S. Navy warship that shot down an Iranian airliner with missiles in 1988, killing all 290 people aboard that airplane.

2) Iran - unrepentant warmongers and gullible fools are at it again

Lindsey German, Counterfire 

You would think Iraq never happened. Suddenly we are told that there is intelligence to prove that Iran was responsible for the attacks on two tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow and extremely busy channel between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. This intelligence comes from the US security services, and seems largely to consist of one grainy video of a boat removing a landmine from a ship, plus the negative assertion that only a state actor could have carried out the attack.

3) Iran shoots down US military drone to send ‘clear message’ to Trump as tensions soar

Adam Withnall & Richard Hall, The Independent 

Iran has shot down a US military drone using a surface-to-air missile, Iranian and American military officials said, amid an escalating row over alleged attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.



4) Trump escalates war threats after drone shootdown over Iran

 Bill Van Auken, WSWS

US President Donald Trump authorized military strikes against Iran Thursday before unexpectedly cancelling them, the New York Times reported. The abrupt move leaves open the imminent possibility of a major new war in the Middle East with the potential to kill millions and spark a global military conflict.

(Related: Don't let the Americans lie their way into another disastrous war)

5) Belgium’s Left Breakthrough

Denis Rogatyuk, Socialist Project Bullet 

On May 27th, Europe awakened to what seemed to be like a new stage in the resurgence of the populist right and reactionary forces, and a major retreat for the radical left in the elections to the European parliament.

6) Bosses pocket Trump tax windfall as workers see job promises vanish

Michael Sainato, The Guardian 

Stephen Smith worked at an AT&T call center in Meriden, Connecticut, for over 20 years before the giant telecoms company announced it was closing the city’s three call centers in February 2019.




7) Canadian companies failed to pay billions of taxes owed, new CRA report reveals

Marco Chown Oved and Robert Cribb, The Toronto Star

Canadian corporations failed to pay between $9.4 billion and $11.4 billion in taxes in 2014, according to the first comprehensive analysis of the country's corporate "tax gap" — the difference between taxes legally owed and those collected — being released today by the Canada Revenue Agency.

8) Raptors victory: Feel-good multiculturalism masks reality of anti-Black racism in Canada

Corrie Scott, The Conversation 

During what was probably one of the most exciting and gratifying moments of his professional life, moments after the Raptors’ NBA finals victory on Thursday, a California sheriff’s deputy stopped Raptors president Masai Ujiri from walking onto the court for the Raptors’ trophy presentation. The deputy carded him and asked him for his credentials.

9) The Upcoming neo-Nazi Concert in Ukraine That No One Is Talking About

Michael Colborne, Haaretz 

Saturday will see up to 1,500 people attending a gig in Kiev headlined by notorious U.S. neo-Nazi group Blue Eyed Devils. Even an expert on the far-right music scene is shocked how open Fortress Europe is being.




10) Not on Our Side: On Bernie Sanders and Imperialism


 Doug Enaa Greene , Left Voice

Bernie Sanders presents himself as an anti-war candidate. But he has voted in favor of almost every single U.S. military intervention in the last two decades. A look at his record.

11) Biden doubles down on segregationist comments, says critics like Cory Booker 'should apologize' to him

 Allan Smith and Doha Madani, ABC News

Joe Biden on Wednesday doubled down on his statements about working with segregationist senators, telling reporters that he has nothing to be sorry for.


12) Two Weeks After Massacre, Sudanese Set to Reclaim the Streets

People's Dispatch 

Protesters in Sudan are set to reclaim the streets again, barely two weeks after their mass sit-in demonstration outside the army HQ in Khartoum was cleared with a massacre of at least 128 people.

13) Honduran President Cracks Down on Protests-Deploys Military

Telesur 

President Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) announced orders to the Honduran military Thursday to deploy to all parts of the country to stamp down the ever-widening protests against the neoliberal policies of his administration. This follows an overnight emergency session with his National Defense and Security Council after a violent night of protests turned deadly.

14) Chile: Nationwide Strike Brings Teachers, Mine-Workers Together

Telesur 

The Workers Unitary Central (CUT), the National Association of Fiscal Employees (ANEF) and the Student Confederation of Chile (Confech) are all on strike Thursday against President Sebastian Piñera's right-wing government, demanding better pay, more funding and a state-based pension system.

15) The Nonwhite Working Class

Henry Grabar, Slate

Talking to the people in Youngstown, Ohio, that the national media usually ignores.

16) Cuban Private Sector Hit Hard by Recent US Sanctions

Telesur 

The non-state sector in Cuba is already registering a significant blow as a result of the U.S. sanctions implemented by President Donald Trump, with craftmanship dropping by about 60 to 80 percent in sales, according to local media.

17) Cuba Condemns US Siege, Stresses Commitment to Socialism

Telesur 

The Cuban government addressed the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, reaffirming the island’s commitment to delivering social justice, despite aggressive new policies enacted by the United States aimed at crippling the country’s economy.

18) United States Spend Ten Times More On Fossil Fuel Subsidies Than Education


James Ellsmoor, Forbes

A new International Monetary Fund (IMF) study shows that USD$5.2 trillion was spent globally on fossil fuel subsidies in 2017. The equivalent of over 6.5% of global GDP of that year, it also represented a half-trillion dollar increase since 2015 when China ($1.4 trillion), the United States ($649 billion) and Russia ($551 billion) were the largest subsidizers.

19) Where does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America's dirty secret

Erin McCormick, Bennett Murray, Carmela Fonbuena, Leonie Kijewski, Gökçe Saraçoğlu, Jamie Fullerton, Alastair Gee and Charlotte Simmonds, The Guardian 

A Guardian report from 11 countries tracks how US waste makes its way across the world – and overwhelms the poorest nations




20) Photograph lays bare reality of melting Greenland sea ice

Alison Rourke and Fiona Harvey, The Guardian 

Rapidly melting sea ice in Greenland has presented an unusual hazard for research teams retrieving their oceanographic moorings and weather station equipment.



21) How climate change is thawing the 'glue that holds the northern landscape together'

Susan Ormiston & Mia Sheldon · CBC News

In one of the coldest places in Canada, Steve Kokelj is searching for Arctic thaw. He's driving the great Dempster Highway, 747 kilometres of gravel linking southern Canada to the Arctic.

22) India is running out of water, fast

Al Jazeera 

At least 21 cities in India, including capital New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting around 100 million people.

23) ‘Lethal levels of salt’ seen in some southern Ontario waterways, warns WWF Canada

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Road salt levels in southern Ontario waterways have hit record highs, making some as salty as the ocean, environmental advocates said Wednesday as they called for measures to mitigate the impact on species and ecosystems.




24) Black Missouri drivers 91% more likely to be stopped, state attorney general finds

Summer Ballentine, Associated Press

A report from Missouri’s attorney general shows that black drivers across the state are 91 percent more likely than white motorists to be pulled over by police and newly collected data shows that African-Americans are even more likely to be stopped in many communities where they live.


25) 'Take your charge like a man': Baltimore police video shows takedown of bystander that led to officer's arrest

Lillian Reed, The Baltimore Sun

When Baltimore police Sgt. Ethan Newberg told fellow officers to arrest a bystander who criticized their tactics as they detained another man, the 24-year veteran of the department said the pedestrian had been “interfering.”

26) 'Hands up, buddy. You're going to die': Violent Edmonton arrest under investigation

Anna McMillan · CBC News

The conduct of a group of Edmonton police officers is being questioned after a video posted online appears to show an officer repeatedly kicking a suspect before slamming him head first into a wall.

27) “I Thought We Were Going to Be Executed”: Police Held Family at Gunpoint After 4-Year-Old Took Doll

Democracy Now

An African-American family is suing the city of Phoenix, Arizona, after police held them at gunpoint because their 4-year-old daughter had allegedly taken a doll from a Family Dollar store. In a video that has since gone viral, officers point guns and yell at the family, and one officer even threatens to shoot the 4-year-old girl’s father, Dravon Ames, in the face. The girl’s mother, Iesha Harper, is heard saying she is unable to hold her hands up because she is holding a child and that she is pregnant. Phoenix’s mayor and police chief have both apologized for what happened, and criticized how the police officers handled the situation. Activists in Phoenix say this is just the latest incident in a police department plagued by issues of police violence and killings. Last year, the city had 44 police shootings, nearly double that of the previous year, and led the nation in police shootings among cities of its size. We speak with Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper, as well as a family spokesperson, Rev. Jarrett Maupin. On Monday, the couple filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city.

28) Philadelphia Pulls 72 Cops After Watchdog Finds Thousands of Officers’ Violent, Racist Social Media Posts

Elliot Hannon, Slate

The Philadelphia Police Department announced Wednesday it had taken 72 officers off the streets in response to the discovery of thousands of offensive social media posts by the officers, including violent messages and racist memes. The officers were placed on desk duty as the social media scandal brews, implicating more than 300 officers of the city’s 6,500-officer police force. “We’ve talked about from the outset how disturbing, how disappointing and upsetting these posts are,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said Wednesday. “They will undeniably impact police-community relations.”

29) Woman sues RCMP officer who asked if she was 'at all turned on' during sexual assault

Rafferty Baker · CBC News 

An Indigenous woman is suing a B.C. RCMP officer she says interrogated her in March 2012 when she reported a sexual assault.

30) Three months in jail for cotton candy? Inside the nationwide crime lab backlog

CBS News

There's a growing backlog at crime labs nationwide that's leaving victims waiting for justice: A recent government report found the backlog for DNA analysis increased almost 85% from 2011 through 2017. "CBS This Morning" got a rare look inside the Arkansas state lab, and spoke to one woman stuck behind bars because of the backlog.

31) Ottawa hires hitman to overthrow Venezuelan government

Yves Engler

Meet the hired gun Ottawa is using to overthrow the Venezuelan government.

32) Massive Embezzlement Scandal Threatens Juan Guaido’s Political Future

 Alexander Rubinstein, MPN News 

The political party of Juan Guaido — Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) — was never all that popular to begin with. The sixth largest political party in Venezuela, Popular Will is heavily financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Now, a recently exposed embezzlement scandal in Colombia risks to further alienate the party from the Venezuelan people.

33) Venezuelan Opposition Scrambles in Wake of Humanitarian Aid Scandal

The Real News Network

An opposition-oriented website uncovered a $125,000 corruption scandal involving associates of Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared president Juan Guaidó. Independent journalist Dan Cohen tracked down the details of this story.

34) Bolsonaro under pressure from within and below

Orlando Hill, Counterfire 

Although the Bolsonaro regime doesn't look like collapsing immediately, its structure and support are waning and the mass movement is growing.

35) Nearly 300 employees at GTA autism treatment facility given layoff notices

Colin D'Mello, CTV News

Nearly 300 employees at a GTA autism treatment facility received layoff notices on Monday amid an ongoing reorganizing of autism funding by the Progressive Conservative government.

36) Ford government defends layoffs at autism centre, warns more to come

Cynthia Mulligan, CITY TV News

The day after nearly 300 autism service providers were given layoff notices at ErinOakKids, a centre in Mississauga, the Minister of Social Services, Lisa MacLeod, issued a statement defending the move and warns of more to come.

37) Ontario government to allow landlords to increase rent by highest amount since 2013


Hannah Alberga, Blog TO

The Ontario government’s new rent increase guideline for Toronto allows a larger jump than last year's.

38) OSAP cuts are more significant than Ontario students anticipated

Hannah Alberga, Blog TO

Ontario post-secondary students’ OSAP grants and loans are quietly changing overnight.

39) Fedeli, MacLeod, Thompson all demoted in major Ontario cabinet shuffle by Ford


Lucas Powers · CBC News

Some of Ontario Premier Doug Ford's most high-profile cabinet ministers have been moved out of their posts as part of a major shuffle that came amid slumping poll numbers for the premier and controversies on several important files.

40) Doug Ford's chief of staff resigns following patronage controversy

CBC News

Ontario Premier Doug Ford's chief of staff, Dean French, has resigned in the wake of damning reports that the Progressive Conservative government's picks for two patronage appointments had ties to French.

41) Saskatchewan to continue using ‘birth alerts’ despite calls by MMIWG inquiry to stop

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

The Saskatchewan government says it will continue to track or seize at-risk babies despite a call to stop from the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

42) B.C. CFS moves in to seize 90-minute-old baby on report of neglect

Melissa Ridgen, APTN News

An hour and a half after enduring a C-section delivery at a Kamloops hospital, an Indigenous couple was exhausted but elated as they met their baby girl – a first child for both.

43) Four migrant toddlers hospitalized after time at US border facility: lawyers

Morgan Gstalter, The Hill

Immigration attorneys said four toddlers, all under the age of 3, were hospitalized last week after spending time at a U.S. Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas.

44) Trump official tells court detained children don't need beds, soap or toothbrushes

Tom Embury-Dennis, The Independent 

The Trump administration has argued in court it should be able to force detained migrant children to sleep on concrete floors and deprive them of soap and toothbrushes.

45) Why this German city plans to make public transport free

The Local

Citizens in Monheim will be able to ride buses without a ticket from April 2020, regional newspaper the Rheinische Post has reported.

46) Eternal Builder of Dreams and Hopes: Marta Harnecker (1937 – 2019)

 Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity, Socialist Project Bullet 

“Well, friends, that’s it for today. You have to live in uncertainty and get ahead no matter what it takes. A hug as always, full of dreams and hopes.” – Marta

See also: Lula and Brazil, Gulf of Oman, MMIWG Backlash & more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos June 9 - 16