Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A Cruise Along the Soviet Dnieper, 1985 Part I: Kiev to Kremenchug

The Dneiper River is either the third or fourth longest river in Europe -- depending on whether or not one counts the Ural River as European -- and it is hard to overstate its significance historically and economically to Ukraine.

While it begins in Russia and flows through Belarus, over 1,000 kilometers of its length runs through Ukraine and connects many of its cities to each other as well as to the Black Sea. During the Soviet era the river was a major transportation corridor for industrial goods and natural resources as well as an important source of hydroelectric power.

It was also a major tourist attraction with the introduction of river cruises along it on passenger ships with names like the V. I. Lenin and the 25th CPSU Congress. 

Published in 1985 this comprehensive promotional book highlights the ships themselves as well as all of the cities and attractions that the ships stopped at on a cruise from Kiev to the city of Odessa. Each community is profiled with an outline of its history, economy, cultural and educational facilities as well as with many photos. It was aimed at both a domestic and non-Soviet audience as it is written in English and Russian.

These cruises, which are now quite expensive, were heavily subsidized by the Soviet government and Soviet trade unions for Soviet citizens.

In this first of two installments looking at the book we start with an overview of the river and ships and then profile the cities of Kiev -- the starting point -- Kanev, Cherkassy and Kremenchug. The second installment will cover the trip from Dnepropetrovsk to Odessa.

"On board the ship, passengers are provided with comfortable cabins, well-stocked libraries, cinema halls, variety music, bars and pinball arcades. They are served tasty meals and offered a variety of entertainment. Ashore, excursions await them, as well as fishing parties, swimming, sunbathing, etc. The cruise begins in Kiev, capital of Soviet Ukraine". 

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

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

(click on scans to enlarge)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Proletarians of All Countries Unite!

Proletarians of All Countries Unite!
- Soviet Anti-Imperialist Poster, 1967

Monday, July 29, 2019

Janice MacKinnon's new role in Alberta says a lot about the NDP's legacy of "fiscal responsibility". None of it good.

Janice MacKinnon is back. MacKinnon, who was the NDP's Finance Minister in Saskatchewan in the early 1990s, is now heading up a panel for the hard right government of Jason Kenney in Alberta that will provide him with advice on how to get the province out of its supposed “critical fiscal situation”.

This should cause great alarm in Alberta to anyone concerned about what is likely to be severe austerity budgets in the coming years.

MacKinnon, after all, presided over vicious and extreme cutbacks in 1993 in her home province. The Saskatchewan NDP government of Roy Romanow passed a budget that "closed 52 rural hospitals, ended the children’s dental plan and universal prescription drug program, and slashed funding to schools, hospitals, universities and local governments by anywhere from five to 13 per cent." Meanwhile "some business sectors like manufacturing and processing received tax reductions".

This budget was a dream for corporate interests. It emboldened right-wing narratives both in the province and across the country. After all conservatives and liberals could say that even the NDP had accepted that spending was "out of control" and that there was nothing to do but launch attacks on programs and people.

Now Kenney is using MacKinnon's history as a New Democrat to provide him some ideological cover and to allow him to claim that any advice for nasty cutbacks that the panel provides will somehow be "non-partisan".

Of course, as we have looked at before, the Notley Alberta NDP government did itself no favours in buying into neo-liberal narratives around "fiscal responsibility" and its total capitulation to the oil industry and sector and its demands.

But MacKinnon -- who has worked on gigs like this previously for Stephen Harper and the reactionary Pallister government in Manitoba -- takes this to a whole different NDP level.

So the next time that NDP apologists and and partisans point with pride to how the NDP is allegedly the most "fiscally responsible" party when in power -- falsely claiming this is a legacy that flows from Tommy Douglas -- you might want to remind them that it is a legacy that is actually much closer in time to MacKinnon and extreme austerity.

And that is nothing to be proud of.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Happy Birthday Comrade Chavez

We must confront the privileged elite who have destroyed a large part of the world
- Hugo Chavez, b. July 28, 1954

ICE, Ricardo Rossello Resigns, Venezuela and more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos July 21 - 28

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 July 21 - 28.

1) Do they know it’s a tax haven? Live Aid star Bob Geldof named in Mauritian finance leaks

Phil Miller, The Morning Star

BOB GELDOF used a tax haven to make money from business deals across Africa, according to leaked documents.

2) Huge swathes of the Arctic on fire, ‘unprecedented’ satellite images show

Harry Cockburn, The Independent 

Vast swathes of the Arctic are suffering from "unprecedented" wildfires, new satellite images have revealed.

3) The House Voted To Condemn The Boycott Israel Movement Over Protests From Reps. Ilhan Omar And Rashida Tlaib

Kadia Goba and Addy Baird, BuzzFeed News 

The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to formally oppose the Palestinian-backed movement to boycott Israel, over the objections of Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

4) “NATO get out from the Balkans, the Balkans belong to the people!”

Muhammed Shabeer, People's Dispatch 

Interview with Aleksandar Ðenić, first secretary of the League of Yugoslav Communist Youth (SKOJ), the youth wing of the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia (NKPJ).


Bennett Guillaume, People's Voice

In April a Japanese newspaper revealed a policy document purportedly detailing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s economic strategy for the 2016-2020 period.

6) The red locomotive in Brussels? Interview with the Workers’ Party of Belgium MEP

Denis Rogatyuk, Green Left Weekly 

On May 27, Europe woke up to what seemed like a new stage in the resurgence of the far-right and reactionary forces and a major retreat for the left in the elections to the European parliament.


People's Voice Editorial Board 

Every August, commemorations of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are an important reminder of the dangers of nuclear weapons and the importance of ongoing disarmament efforts. People in Canada generally don’t think of this as a nuclear weapons country – the deployment of nuclear-tipped Bomarc missiles in Canada was ended in 1972, and the nuclear-armed CF-101 fighter jet was replaced by the non-nuclear CF-18 in 1984. More often than not, people here consider nuclear disarmament “an American issue.”

8) A Survivor's Granddaughter Reflects On Tulsa Race Massacre: 'It Was A Horrendous Situation'

Robin Young, WBUR

Last month before a House subcommittee, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates referred to something called “Black Wall Street” in making his case for slavery reparations.


People's Voice Editorial Board

Immediately after Greece’s general election, KKE General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas said that “the right-wing and conservative policies of the SYRIZA government paved the way to New Democracy … it purified and resurrected them.” Describing the SYRIZA leadership as “sellouts to Trump and the EU Commission,” Koutsoumbas explained that the Tsipras party’s cynical use of socialist slogans had resulted in a demoralized and demobilized left in the labour and people’s movements. This opened the door for New Democracy to return to power.

10) This Supreme Court Case Made School District Lines A Tool For Segregation

Elissa Nadworny and Cory Turner, NPR

Roughly 9 million children — nearly 1 in 5 public school students in the U.S. — attend schools that are racially isolated and receive far less money than schools just a few miles away. That's according to a sweeping new review of the nation's most divisive school district borders from EdBuild, a nonprofit that investigates school funding inequities.

11) Food Stamp Cuts To Hurt Poor, According to Trump Gvt's Own Study


A Trump administration proposal to reduce eligibility for food stamps could undercut access to basic nutrition for millions of Americans and hurt some low-cost retailers, according to an analysis conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which runs the program.

12) Puerto Rico's Governor Announces Resignation Effective Aug. 2


Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello announced Wednesday at midnight his resignation effective Friday, August 2, 2019 at 5:00 pm local time, and will be replaced by the secretary of Justice, Wanda Vazquez.

13) Puerto Rico: Rossello Replacement Being Probed for Corruption


Puerto Ricans continue to protest as the role of governor passes from Ricardo Rossello to Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez who was already being investigated for corruption linked to Hurricane Maria aid provisions.

14) Latest victim is 138th FARC member killed since peace signed in Nov 2016

Justice for Colombia 

In addition to 138 FARC members, more than 500 social activists have been killed since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016.

15) Video of man taunting mom, daughter with slurs prompts more worries about racial tensions in Quebec

Jonathan Montpetit · CBC News

A white man accosted an Arabic-speaking woman and her two-year-old daughter earlier this week, uttering racial slurs and sexually violent threats in broad daylight on a Montreal street.

16) Meet Shahid Buttar, Pelosi’s Left-Wing Challenger

Natascha Elena Uhlmann, Jacobin 

Nancy Pelosi is facing a primary challenge from a civil rights lawyer who supports the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. Knocking her off would be a resounding win for the Left.

17) Outrage as Trump brands mostly black Baltimore 'infested mess'

Al Jazeera 

US President Donald Trump was hit with new accusations of racism on Saturday after he attacked a prominent African American congressman and branded the majority-black city of Baltimore an "infested mess".

18) Statement from our union at the Toronto public transit system

CUPE Local 2

TTC electrical workers call for FREE PUBLIC TRANSIT and a campaign of mass strikes and protests to BRING DOWN DOUG FORD.


Ryan Grim and Akela Lacy, The Intercept 

ON TUESDAY, a dark-money effort linked primarily to the Ohio nuclear industry delivered an audacious payoff, as a newly elected state legislature overcame years of opposition to shower a $1.1 billion bailout on two state nuclear plants.

20) Following U.S. education policy, Doug Ford declares public high schools open for business

Rick Salutin, Rabble

Among his sins, now rising up to haunt him before they even settle into the loam, Doug Ford has decreed that beginning in fall 2020, Ontario high school students will need to take four online courses to graduate.

21) Critics slam reports of Doug Ford's changes to Toronto relief line plan

CBC News

Critics are slamming Premier Doug Ford's transit plan, after reports that his government's new vision for a downtown relief line could be significantly different from the line the city already approved.

(Related: Of course Ford has not revealed plans for the TTC "Ontario Line". It will never be built.)

22) 18-Year-Old U.S. Citizen Held in Immigration Detention for a Month Has Finally Been Released

Emma Ockerman, Vice News 

The young, Texas-born U.S. citizen wrongly held in migrant detention for nearly a month was finally released on Tuesday.

23) Video Shows ICE Agents Smashing a Family’s Car Window and Dragging the Dad Out

Gaby Del Valle, Vice News

Kansas City officials and activist groups are blasting the Trump administration and the local police department over the brutal arrest of a local dad who got pulled over by ICE.

24) Trump’s Border Patrol Chief Admitted She Was Part Of A Secret Facebook Group Filled With Racist, Sexist Comments

Salvador Hernandez, BuzzFeed News

The chief of United States Border Patrol admitted to members of Congress she was a member of a secret Facebook group filled with racist and sexist posts, but claimed she was not aware of the troubling content until the group was revealed by reporters.

25) Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump Administration Asylum Restrictions

Antonia Blumberg, HuffPost

A California federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on Wednesday blocking the Trump administration from enforcing a new rule ending asylum protections for most Central American migrants.


Nausicaa Renner, The Intercept 

AMID THE TRUMP administration’s threats to accelerate deportations, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have increasingly been using deception and surveillance to make targeted arrests, according to immigrant rights groups across the country.

27) Another ‘NY Times’ biased report — this one about Israel’s destruction of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

James North, Mondoweiss 

The New York Times had to report Israel’s shocking demolition yesterday of Palestinian apartment blocks in Jerusalem; the story was too big to ignore. But the paper’s Isabel Kershner cleverly tried to present Israel’s brutal action in the best possible way, while muffling the voices of the victims.

28) Western Media Losing Enthusiasm for Failing Coup in Venezuela

Lucas Koerner and Ricardo Vaz – FAIR

When previously unknown Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Guaidó stood up in an East Caracas plaza and declared himself “interim president” of the South American country, Western corporate media were ebullient.

29) Venezuela Hosts 25th Meeting of Leftist 'Sao Paulo Forum'


Embracing “Peace, Sovereignty and Prosperity of the Peoples” as a common goal, over 120 Latin American social and political organizations began Thursday the 25th Meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum (SPF) in Caracas, Venezuela.

30) Venezuela: High Court Rejects Guaido's TIAR Attempt


Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) has nullified the National Assembly’s attempt to reinstate the nation in the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), calling the move "an assault on the rule of law and the power of the Venezuelan people."

31) Cuba Has 9 Doctors Per 1000 Citizens, Highest in Its History


Cuba has more than 100,000 doctors, the highest number in the history of the country with a proportion of nine doctors per 1,000 citizens.

32) Amazon gold miners invade indigenous village in Brazil after its leader is killed

Dom Phillips, The Guardian 

Dozens of gold miners have invaded a remote indigenous reserve in the Brazilian Amazon where a local leader was stabbed to death and have taken over a village after the community fled in fear, local politicians and indigenous leaders said. The authorities said police were on their way to investigate.

See also: Puerto Rico Protests, Ilhan Omar, Israeli Apartheid & more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos July 14 - 21

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Stand with Cuba


Cuba is a little land in a heroic role 
Its enemies are hollow men, they haven't any soul 
They fight as once Goliath fought 
Behind a mast-high spear 
While Cuba fights as David fought 
Without a sign of fear. 
Goliath falls as forests fall 
There's thunder in the land. 
Look at little Cuba now, 
Doesn't she look grand! 

- Joe Wallace, Canadian Communist activist and poet (1890-1975). Written in Moscow, 1960 

Now, more than ever, Cuba needs our solidarity against American imperialist blockade and attack. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Visiting the Soviet Far East Port City of Nakhodka, 1976

For most of its history the area of the city of Nakhodka was a small set of towns on the Pacific coast of the Russian and then Soviet Far East. By 1950 it had grown to a population of just under 30,000 people who were primarily engaged in fishing and forestry.

In the 1950s, due to the dramatic growth of Soviet industry, petroleum production and trade, the government decided it needed to greatly increase its port facilities and capacity in the Far East. They began the rapid, planned expansion of Nakhodka as both a community and as a fishing, shipping and industrial centre.

By the time this postcard folder was published in 1976 the city had a population of over 150,000 with new housing, educational and cultural facilities, a mechanized port, factories, fisheries, and oil refineries. One new neighbourhood and housing complex alone had as many people in it as did the entire city in 1950. It had connections to the Trans-Siberian railway and highway and also worked in conjunction with the nearby hub of Vladivostok.

With 15 pictures this look at the city was aimed at a domestic audience and had text in Russian only. There are photos of the naval facilities, monuments, the city and surrounding area, the railway, etc. It was accompanied by a booklet in Russian that talks about Nakhodka at the time and the plans for the future. We have translated it and provided the text as well. The bits about Soviet city planning I found especially interesting.


In the southern part of the Far East, on the Coast of the Sea of ​​Japan, lies the city of Nakhodka. This is the final destination of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The city is young -- only 25 years old. But the history of the discovery of the bay, on the bank of which it is located, goes into the distant past. 

115 years ago, on June 29, 1859, the Russian military corvette America went from Hokkaido Island to Peter the Great Bay. Not far from Cape Povorot, the corvette fell into a storm and took shelter from the elements in an unknown bay. It was unfamiliar, poorly understood coast. In the fog it was possible to jump onto the underwater rocks. The commander of the ship decided to approach close to the shore. In the morning, just after dawn, in the western part of the bay they noticed a comfortable spot securely covered by thick woods. The water was calm, like in a mountain lake. “This is a find,” one of the monks exclaimed. 

The pride of the people of Nakhodka is the Order of the Red Banner of Labor trade port. Day and night it bustles with activity. Wood, coal, salt, cars, and containers are shipped to ocean ships. From the quays leave ships to countries of all continents. Every day trains with multicolored containers leave the port. They race at the speed of the passenger express. After 10-11 days the containers arrive in Leningrad. 

This is the shortest way to ship from Japan to Europe. More than ten million tons of cargo passes per year through the Nakhodka trade port. It is one of the foremost in the country. The development of the productive forces of the Far East and of foreign trade demanded new facilities and an increase in cargo traffic. The XXIV Congress of the CPSU decided: " complete the construction of the first stage of a deep-water port in the Far East in the region of Nakhodka". This new port will be the largest mechanized port in the country, its annual cargo turnover will be more than 30 million tons per year.

Not far from the moorings, in a picturesque area on the shore of the bay, there is a residential settlement spreading for about 30 thousand people. In Nakhodka are active marine fisheries and fishing farms. From here, fleets go to the shores of Alaska, America, Kamchatka, and into the Indian Ocean. They not only fish, but also produce canned food, which are in great demand among the population. 

Along with the development of seaports (trading and fishing) in the city, the food industry and building materials industry are being developed. Nakhodka has a large ship repair plant for the fleets. Nakhodka is also an essential oil port in the east of the country. With commissioning of the Nakhodkinskaya oil tank farm, as well as the creation of the Primorsky maritime navigation centre, there is an opportunity to start exporting petroleum products from here. 

The growing importance of the Far East in the country's economy predetermines the special role of the city of Nakhodka, which is developing as a large hub of marine and railway transport, as a center of the oil refining industry and the local construction industry. 

Nakhodka is full of new buildings. Wherever you look, cranes rise, residential buildings and kindergartens are being built, enterprises are being built, and streets are being asphalted. The city consists of numerous residential districts, separated by small hills and connected with each other by the main central street - Nakhodkinsky Avenue. Each district has its own club or House of Culture, schools, shops, libraries and everyday institutions. There are two hotels for visitors and the construction of the fishermen’s holiday home is being completed. 

The further development of the city is being determined along new lines of city planning. It is all being done around the existing seaport, a new export-import port, an oil refinery in the Novolitovsk river valley, and a northern industrial hub that is being created. The architectural-planning structure of the city is determined by five planning zones, each of which is formed on the basis of specific landscape complexes. The buildings in these areas, combined with the unique natural landscape, will give the city a distinctive silhouette and will enrich its external appearance. 

Every evening the lights are lit along Kinsky Bay. The lights are denser as the city grows. 

The gate of Russia in the Far East is called Nakhodka, which is growing into its own. These gates are always open for those who seek friendship and trade with the Soviet people. The beautiful Nakhodka harbor is waiting for new friends from all over the world to visit.

The Building of the City Committee of the CPSU and City Executive Committee

Fishing Port

View of the Marina and the Port

Lumber Pier

Bus Station

Maritime Station

Sailor's Palace of Culture

Seaside Shipyard

A City on the Green Hills

City Stela 

Here Ends the Trans-Siberian Highway



View of the City

Nakhodka - Vladivostok Road