Sunday, June 30, 2019

Europe Burns, MMIWG, Bill 21 & more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos June 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 June 23 - 30.

1) 'Hell is coming': week-long heatwave begins across Europe

Jon Henley, The Guardian 

Authorities have urged children and older people to stay indoors and issued severe warnings against dehydration and heatstroke as an unprecedented week-long heatwave begins its advance across continental Europe.

2) It's so hot in Spain that manure self-ignited, sparking a 10,000-acre wildfire

Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Firefighters in Spain are battling a major wildfire that probably started after a heap of manure self-ignited amid the intense European heat wave.

3) France records all-time highest temperature of 45.9C

Jon Henley, Angelique Chrisafis, and Sam Jones, The Guardian 

France recorded temperatures nearly two degrees higher than its previous record and firefighters continued to battle historic wildfires in Spain as much of western Europe remained in the grip of an extreme early-summer heatwave on Friday.

4) Europe has had five 500-year summers in 15 years. And now this.

Stephen Leahy, National Geographic 

Another deadly heat wave has Europe in its sweaty grip this week. Record temperatures topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) in parts of France, Germany, Poland and Spain, with hotter days to come. The same thing happened last year—record-breaking heat was responsible for 700 deaths in Sweden and more than 250 in Denmark, countries that have never needed air conditioning before this new era of climate-change-driven extreme events.

5) On 'Hottest Day in History of France,' World Told 'Do Not Look Away' as Police Tear-Gas Climate Campaigners in Paris

Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams

French riot police tear-gassed climate protesters in Paris on Friday as the county sweltered under record heat.

6) US military is a bigger polluter than as many as 140 countries – shrinking this war machine is a must

Benjamin Neimark, Oliver Belcher and Patrick Bigger, The Conversation 

The US military’s carbon bootprint is enormous. Like corporate supply chains, it relies upon an extensive global network of container ships, trucks and cargo planes to supply its operations with everything from bombs to humanitarian aid and hydrocarbon fuels. Our new study calculated the contribution of this vast infrastructure to climate change.

7) B.C. First Nation has change of heart, now opposes Trans Mountain pipeline project

Angela Sterritt · CBC News

A First Nation that was once in full support of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project is now standing in opposition, at least until it feels confident the project won't destroy one of their ancient villages.

8) Economist Marc Lee dispenses with "big lie" that LNG will help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions

Charlie Smith, The Georgia Straight 

Late last week, Green MP Paul Manly drew attention to the Liberal government's wish to obtain carbon credits for shipping liquefied natural gas out of the country.

10) Twerps, the Apocalypse, Pipelines and Vonnegut

Andrew Nikiforuk, TheTyee

“Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

11) Canadian Communist leader Rowley hits Trudeau Liberals’ OK of pipeline

Mark Gruenberg, People's World

Canadian Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to build a controversial pipeline to transport Alberta’s heavy, polluting tar sands oil to a port on the British Columbia coast is a top broken promise to the Canadian people, Communist Party of Canada leader Liz Rowley says.

12) Swept Away

Katie Daubs, The Toronto Star 

The 85-year-old wasn’t home at the time, but word spread quickly, as it always does in this 149-person town. The tiles upstairs looked the same as the day they were installed, but the roof was cut clean and deposited about 100 metres away in the not-yet-frozen harbour where it sat upright before the tide took it away.

13) No Drips, No Drops: A City Of 10 Million Is Running Out Of Water

Sushmita Pathak, NPR

In India's sixth-largest city, lines for water snake around city blocks, restaurants are turning away customers and a man was killed in a brawl over water. Chennai, with a population of almost 10 million, is nearly out of water.

14) Shit Show in Toronto

Myles Hoenig, Dissident Voice

Alabama of the 50s and 60s has migrated to Toronto.  The ghost of South Africa has a consulate here. Israel’s apartheid government must be jealous over how well Toronto’s NDP runs its elections. So what the hell happened?

(Related: The optics of the Parkdale NDP's federal nomination meeting are not good)

15) Egypt rounds up prominent leftist activists, journalists

Middle East Eye 

Egyptian authorities rounded up at least five left-wing and liberal activists on Tuesday in the latest crackdown against dissent led by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

16) New generation of Quebecers resists Legault's discriminatory law

Karl Nerenberg, Rabble

Today, June 24, is la Fête nationale in Quebec, what they used to call St-Jean-Baptiste Day, a holiday that has greatly evolved over the years.

17) Quebec’s ban on religious symbols will only embolden the far right

Emily Laxer, The Globe and Mail

Earlier this month, Quebec became the first jurisdiction in North America to prohibit some public servants from wearing religious symbols on the job. Bill 21 – which has already been challenged in the courts – contains unprecedented monitoring and surveillance measures to enforce a ban of such symbols in positions of authority, including judges, Crown prosecutors, police officers and teachers.

18) Trouble in Paradise: the rise and fall of Germany's 'brothel king'

Hilke Lorenz, The Guardian 

Rudloff is now serving a five-year sentence for aiding and abetting trafficking. His trial laid bare the misery and abuse of women working as prostitutes at his club who, according to court documents, were treated like animals and beaten if they didn’t make enough money. His imprisonment has dismantled the idea of Germany’s “clean prostitution” industry and raised troubling questions about what lies behind the legalised, booming sex trade.

19) Why we must act to stop prostitution becoming an ordinary ‘job’

Jacci Stoyle, The Scotsman

Prostitution is not ‘empowering’ for women, it’s a miserable life of exploitation and violence.

20) How the war on drugs attacks indigenous people

Ryan Hesketh, Green Left Weekly

In an ongoing and under-publicised tragedy, indigenous peoples around the world routinely have their rights violated under the name of the global war on drugs.

21) Canada’s labour movement must take a stand against the Saudi arms deal

Simon Black and Anthony Fenton, The Conversation 

The CLC must be a voice for peace and human rights and demand that the Canadian government immediately cancel its arms deal with Saudi Arabia and use its considerable resources to co-ordinate labour movement opposition to the deal. Yemen can’t wait.

22) U.S. Communists elect new leaders to begin party’s second century

John Wojcik and C. J. Atkins, People's World 

The Communist Party USA elected two new leaders with deep connections to the labor and democratic movements as co-chairs at its 31st National Convention here on June 23. Rossana Cambron, a Mexican-American woman from Los Angeles, and Joe Sims, an African-American man from New York, were picked to lead the 100-year old party into its second century.

23) Brazil Top Court Rejects Temp Freedom for Lula, Habeas Corpus Trial Suspended


Brazil's Supreme Federal Court (SFT) rejected on Tuesday two appeals that attempted to grant freedom to former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The third motion, which was the Habeas Corpus hearing initiated on December 2018, was suspended once again and rescheduled for this year’s second semester.

24) Brazilian Army Sergeant Arrested for Trafficking 39 Kilos of Cocaine on Presidential Plane


Spanish security forces arrested a member of President Jair Bolsonaro's military entourage at the Sevilla airport for possession of 39 kilos of cocaine in his suitcase.

25) Manitoba’s Government Said They’d Find ‘Efficiencies’ in Healthcare. Now They’re Shutting Down Emergency Rooms.

Press Progress

Nurses are burning out, working overtime and dealing with overcrowded hospitals as Manitobans await the third ER closure since the election of the province’s Progressive Conservative government.

26) Man who killed a woman when he rammed his car into Charlottesville counterprotest gets life in prison

Ellie Kaufman, Ralph Ellis and Steve Almasy, CNN

James A. Fields Jr., the man who drove into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville's "Unite the Right" rally two years ago, leaving one woman dead, was sentenced Friday to life in prison in his federal hate crimes case.

27) Honduras protests: Military police open fire on students injuring four


Honduran military police opened fire on students protesting at a university in the capital, Tegucigalpa, injuring at least four people, officials say.

28) Ugly Canadian supports status quo in original banana republic

Yves Engler

In 1901, US author O. Henry coined the term “banana republic” to describe Honduras, which was dominated by the US-based United Fruit Company. According to Wikipedia: “Typically a banana republic has a society of extremely stratified social classes, usually a large impoverished working class and a ruling-class plutocracy, composed of the business, political and military elites of that society.”

29) Ontario Legal Aid Cuts Force Injured Workers Clinic To Lay Off Staff

Emma Paling, HuffPost

A legal clinic that serves workers injured on the job is laying off 40 per cent of its staff in the wake of cuts to legal aid made by Ontario’s government.

30) Ontario reviewing political appointments after latest accusation of nepotism

The Canadian Press

Ontario's government says it will review all its upcoming appointments to office, after three such appointments were scuttled by accusations of nepotism in less than a week.

31) Tory MPP Kinga Surma’s dad landed policy job in minister’s office: sources

Marieke Walsh, IPolitics

Ontario MPP Kinga Surma’s father scored a job in Premier Doug Ford’s government after the spring 2018 election, according to sources in the Progressive Conservative Party.

32) Ford government deliberately spread misinformation about autism program, internal review says

Caroline Alphonso and Laura Stone, The Globe and Mail

An internal review of changes to Ontario’s autism program calls for an immediate reset, saying the government purposely spread misinformation about the costs and the backlog for treatment to justify a funding model that would leave families “destitute.”

33) Doug Ford: A year of living stupidly

Bob Hepburn, The Toronto Star

Doug Ford will mark the one-year anniversary of being sworn in as Ontario’s 26th premier on June 29, a year that can only be described as a complete disaster.

34) Ford government cuts will blow $2-billion hole in municipal budgets, Moody's warns

Michael Smee · CBC News

Ontario municipalities should brace for a $2-billion shock in the decade ahead, as cuts in provincial transfers sink in, according to the credit rating service Moody's.

35) Shocking photo of drowned father and daughter highlights migrants' border peril

The Guardian 

The grim reality of the migration crisis unfolding on America’s southern border has been captured in photographs showing the lifeless bodies of a Salvadoran father and his daughter who drowned as they attempted to cross the Rio Grande into Texas.

36) Ratcheting up of Iran-US tensions

Robert Bechert, Committee for a Workers' International 

The apparent last minute cancellation by Donald Trump of US military retaliation - after Iran shot down a US surveillance drone - has not significantly lessened the chances of new military clashes given the continuing tensions in that region.

37) Independent Jewish Voices Condemns NDP Removal Of Federal Candidate For Tweets Criticizing Israel


The federal New Democratic Party has removed noted Halifax activist Rana Zaman from the party’s candidacy in the Dartmouth – Cole Harbour riding, which she won on May 1 by a vote of party members. The ostensible reason for her removal is several tweets that Zaman made in August 2018 when Israeli forces were shooting thousands of unarmed Gazans during the “Great March of Return.”

38) Palestinian Gov't: US-led Bahrain Conference 'Stunning Failure'


Palestine's refusal to attend the conference sends “a clear message to Mr. Trump and his administration that the policy of dictates, threats and coercion is no longer effective."

39) Sudan: One Protester Killed as Tens of Thousands Protest Demanding End to Army Rule


Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Khartoum Sunday demanding the military hand over power to civilians, in the largest demonstrations since a deadly security service raid on a protest camp three weeks ago which is being called as the “June 3rd massacre.”

40) Why Venezuela Is the Vietnam of Our Time

Celina della Croce, Black Agenda Report 

Hybrid warfare combines military force with “unconventional” warfare, such as covert campaigns to destabilize the economy of targeted nations.

41) Sad legacy continues of taking Indigenous children from their parents

The Guardian 

We know all too well in Canada the results of separating Indigenous children from their families without forethought or regard. Let’s not have this shameful and discriminatory practice in health care continue to add to that sad legacy.

42) Missing and murdered: Canada's genocide cover-up

Pamela Palmater, NOW Magazine

Canada’s denial of race-based genocide has allowed systemic violence against Indigenous women and girls in particular to continue in plain sight. The only question now should be what is Canada going to do about it?

43) Jesse Wente on the mainstream media's odious defence of genocide

Jesse Wente, NOW Magazine 

We have witnessed the harm the media can do. I hope, for the media’s sake and ours, that the relationship hasn’t been harmed beyond the point of reconciliation.

44) Indigenous drummers say they faced racist confrontation in Toronto park

Jamie Mauracher, Global News

A group of Indigenous women say they are “disgusted” after being yelled at for drumming in a Toronto Park.

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

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Soviet Saratov 1972 -- 16 Vintage Photographs

Today we are going to take a look at the city of Saratov, USSR in 1972 via a postcard packet with 16 images of streets, sights and buildings.

Saratov was (and is) an administrative, industrial and educational centre on the Volga north of the better known Volgograd (Stalingrad). It was also an important Volga port and railway city that played a significant role in sending troops and ammunition south during the epic struggle in Stalingrad during the Second World War. Its population reached a height of around 900,000 in 1989 which has declined to around 840,000 in the post Soviet period.

There are a number of notable things here. As many Soviet cities and regions had there is a huge Pioneer Palace which was an educational and recreational complex for Soviet youth. There is a monument and museum dedicated to Russian radical political philosopher and activist Nikolay Chernyshevsky -- who wrote the famous novel What Is to Be Done? whose title was used later by Lenin -- who was born in Saratov in 1812. We find a museum named for Alexander Radishchev, an 18th century social critic who was exiled to Siberia under Catherine the Great. Notable as well is the Crystal Ice Palace which was home of the Kristall Saratov hockey team after 1969. As a former bookstore owner I would be remiss not to mention the photo of the large and colorful central book store.

The postcard packet was in Russian and was aimed at a domestic audience as Saratov was a closed city. We have translated all the descriptions into English.

Monument to V.I. Lenin

Passenger Ship Moorings on the Volga

Monument to the Fighters of the Revolution of 1917

Kirov Square and the State Circus

Opera and Ballet Theatre

State Conservatory

Nikolay Chernyshevsky Monument

University Scientific Library

Drama Theatre

Alexander Radishchev Museum

Central Book House

Nikolay Chernyshevsky House Museum

Central Department Store

Crystal Ice Palace

Palace of the Pioneers

October Gorge Sanatorium

See also: On Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands - A Photographic Trip to the Soviet Far East, 1973

See also: Blagoveshchensk on the Amur River, USSR 1977 -- A Soviet Postcard Folder

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The optics of the Parkdale NDP's federal nomination meeting are not good

Something clearly went very wrong at the Parkdale NDP's federal nomination meeting on Sunday the optics of which are not good at all. While it seems that an overwhelmingly white room of NDP members easily breezed through the registration process to get to vote, members and supporters of one candidate, Saron Gebresellassi -- many of whom were from racialized communities -- appeared to encounter serious obstacles from those in charge of the meeting. 

Toronto activist Myles Hoenig has already looked at this on The Left Chapter in the posts What happened at the Parkdale NDP's nomination meeting? and The total fiasco of the Parkdale NDP nomination meeting deepens -- Update.

Sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words though and here are tweets and photos about the night and how it unfolded that certainly seem to speak for themselves.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The total fiasco of the Parkdale NDP nomination meeting deepens -- Update

Photo via Brandy Baker / Facebook
by Myles Hoenig

In the aftermath of the disgraceful fiasco that was the Parkdale NDP's nomination meeting that I related previously in my post: What happened at the Parkdale NDP's nomination meeting?  new information is coming to light.

One of the ways that was used to try to deny the vote to the racialized and marginalized supporters that Saron Gebresellassi had signed up was to claim that they could not be allowed to vote if someone had paid the membership fee of $5, even as a loan or family matter. One of the things we were told was that this would violate the rules of Elections Canada.

I spoke to Elections Canada and they say it's up to the party to decide membership fees. So an adjudication judge lied to us when they said they were 'quoting' them without showing federal election law about borrowing money to pay for membership.

I then called NDP headquarters in Ontario (Toronto)  and pretended I wanted to be a new member. I did say I was in the Parkdale-High Park riding and that I knew I missed a nomination meeting but am considering applying for membership for the general election in October.

I told him I was on a very fixed income and asked if my wife or a friend could give me the money to pay the minimum. He said he was uncomfortable answering this question, but did say that if I am paying it back all would be good. I asked if I would be challenged, asked where the money came from and he went back to the line of we would expect the money would be coming from you, (implying if you pay it back than no problem).

I thanked him and then asked, "What is your name, please?"   Silence, sound of a click perhaps, he came back and  he said, "hello? hello? hello?".

I said, What is your name please? and he repeated "hello?"

I then said, "I know you can hear me. Don't play any games with me. What is your name please?"

And he hung up.

Myles Hoenig is a veteran high school teacher of Prince George’s County, Maryland. He has been an activist for political and social change since the very early 70’s. Myles lives in Toronto.

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Salvador Allende, born June 26, 1908

Comrade President Salvador Allende, born June 26, 1908


Monday, June 24, 2019

What happened at the Parkdale NDP's nomination meeting?

Photo via Brandy Baker / Facebook
by Myles Hoenig

Alabama of the 50s and 60s has migrated to Toronto.  The ghost of South Africa has a consulate here. Israel’s apartheid government must be jealous over how well Toronto’s NDP runs its elections. So what the hell happened?

On June 23, 2019 the NDP's Toronto Parkdale riding association held its nomination meeting to decide who would represent the party in the upcoming federal election. Saron Gebresellassi, an Eritrean lawyer, and speaker of 7 languages, was one of 3 candidates for the position. Unlike the other two candidates, her base is the disenfranchised, the new immigrants to Canada, people of color, the disabled, the people on government assistance, and, of course, all others who support her humanity.

Saron and her team personally registered nearly 400 new voters to the NDP for this election. She personally delivered it to the NDP brass before the deadline. But because her registration forms were on paper, not on-line, and paid with cash, not credit card, the executive committee of the NDP in Ottawa did not register them, as they said they would. Jagmeet Singh, leader of the NDP, was notified and was asked to intercede, but to no avail.  So Saron’s voters come out to vote. So many for the first time in any national election, had to stand in line with screaming babies, old people not able to, people in wheelchairs, just to go through all 400 sheets of registration forms to match their names, while the near lily-white audience sat comfortably not having their registration challenged.

People left in frustration. The election was a sham, straight out of the US Republican Party playbook. The NDP clearly does not want to change the tenor, and especially the color, of its membership.

Their newly elected nominee, Paul Taylor, had insulted this particular community within the riding by refusing to attend a debate, at which the other two candidates were present, and then had the nerve to ask the organizer of the debate to hold a celebratory meet and greet party for him “when” he wins the nomination. Taylor’s team left flyers about Naomi Klein’s endorsement in public housing and predominantly immigrant buildings where Saron had dozens of supporters. Funny, though, that he posted her endorsement where Saron had been organizing for six months. Like who the hell there would know who Naomi Klein is? So out of touch.

NDP leadership played a major role in allowing this to happen. Singh was made aware of the problem of this non-traditional approach to registering voters and how the executive board in Ottawa refused to do their job of putting these new voters on the voters’ list. Janet Solberg, sister of Stephen Lewis, leader of the Ontario NDP for most of the 70s who kicked out the leftist contingent known as The Waffle, played a leadership role in officiating this election. In a 3 way call to the candidates, she openly expressed her hostility to Saron by stating how she won’t support her.

This party stood for something once. The greatest Canadian of all time, according to popular vote on the CBC, was Tommy Douglas, former premier of Saskatchewan who gave us our single payer health care system and represented the NDP. So yes, now it supports their version of a Green New Deal. It opposes the neo-liberal Justin Trudeau. It hates Doug Ford, the Donald Trump of Ontario, but it also seemingly supports the disenfranchisement of people of color, new immigrants, and frankly, people who just don’t look like them. It is no wonder the NDP polls at 12%. And learning on social media that this is not an isolated incident within the NDP throughout the provinces, that 12% will be, and should be, a high mark.

This article originally appeared on Dissident Voice.

Myles Hoenig is a veteran high school teacher of Prince George’s County, Maryland. He has been an activist for political and social change since the very early 70’s. Myles lives in Toronto.

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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

(Click on scans to enlarge)