Sunday, September 30, 2018

Kavanaugh Confirmation, Ontario Austerity, Gaza & more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos September 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 September 23 - 30.

It begins with a selection of articles related to the Kavanaugh confirmation. 


David Gilbert, Vice News

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh offered a novel explanation Monday for why he could not have sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in high school — because he was a virgin.

2) How to humiliate a woman: the ugly lesson of Brett Kavanaugh's yearbook

Sian Cain, The Guardian

He and his teenage friend shared boasts of being a ‘Renate alumnus’, a claim that, 35 years later, has embarrassed a woman who had offered her wholehearted support to the US supreme court nominee.

3) Brett Kavanaugh accused of drugging women who were then gang-raped

Ruth Brown, The New York Post

A third woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct has come forward — alleging he helped “drug” girls at parties in the 1980s where they were gang-raped.

4) Read the sworn declaration by Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick

NBC News

On Wednesday, Michael Avenatti released a declaration from his client, Julie Swetnick. This is an allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, not a proven fact and NBC News has not vetted Swetnick's allegation.

Via Occupy Nashville on Facebook

5) What Brett Kavanaugh teaches us about teenage boys and male power

Suzanne Moore, The Guardian

More than 25 years ago, Anita Hill was dismissed as ‘nutty and slutty’ for alleging sexual harassment. Now another supreme court nominee stands accused. Has nothing changed?

6) Woman Who Confronted Jeff Flake in the Elevator: 'I Wanted Him to Feel My Rage'

Drew Schwartz, Vice News

The protesters who cornered Flake just before he voted on Kavanaugh's confirmation spoke out about why they did it.

7) The rape culture of the 1980s, explained by Sixteen Candles

Constance Grady, Vox

The beloved romantic comedy’s date rape scene provides important context for the Brett Kavanaugh accusations.

8) Boys Will Be Boys: Brett Kavanaugh, Rape, & 1980s High School Culture: Soriano’s Comment, №24

Scott Soriano, Medium

White people spent much of the past decade living under the lie that we lived in a “post-racial” world. We had a Black president, so everything was “ebony and ivory.” We were fools. Men and some women fuming that “This wasn’t my high school” and “NotAllMen” are, again, playing the fool. They are more concerned with self-appearance and parsing words than dealing with real world problem of rape and misogyny. We cannot be sucked into petty arguments over language, otherwise we are playing whack-a-mole with symptoms. We squash “boys will be boys” and now have to deal with “horseplay” or “rough sex” or whatever lame ass thing comes out in defense of Kavanaugh and others. Forget that, let’s get to the disease and root it out.

9) The Whole Country Just Watched What Happens When Angry, Powerful Men Don't Get Their Way

Gabrielle Moss, Bustle

I came in to work thinking that I was just going to watch a Senate hearing — a Senate hearing that I was, frankly, very depressed about. I was prepared to see Christine Blasey Ford, who has alleged that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school, have her memory and character attacked. I was prepared to see senators try to minimize the allegations, saying that Ford's memory was fuzzy or that the alleged assault wasn't really that bad. And I also expected Kavanaugh to deliver the fairly placid opening remarks that he made available publicly the night before the hearing, prepared to see him again deny the allegations and quietly try to get this whole thing over with.

10) White House limits scope of the FBI's Kavanaugh investigation

Ken Dilanian, Geoff Bennett, Kristen Welker, Frank Thorp V, Hallie Jackson and Leigh Ann Caldwell, NBC News

The White House is limiting the scope of the FBI's investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, multiple people briefed on the matter told NBC News.

11) Bernie Sanders calls for FBI to investigate whether Kavanaugh told truth in hearing

Tal Axelrod, The Hill

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) demanding that the FBI, in addition to investigating sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, also examine the truthfulness of Kavanaugh's statements made under oath Thursday before the Senate panel.


Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs 

This man should not serve another day as any kind of judge…

13) Under the Fog of Kavanaugh, House Passes $3.8 Trillion More in Tax Cuts

Glenn Fleishman, Fortune

With attention fixed on the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new $3.1 trillion tax cut on Friday. The vote was 220 to 191, including three Democrats.

14) Israel gives Palestinians eight days to leave Khan al-Ahmar

Al Jazeera

Israel's planned demolition of the occupied West Bank village has been criticised by the international community.

15) Italian government adopts hardline anti-migrant decree

Ylenia Gostoli, Al Jazeera

Security bill dubbed the 'Salvini decree' makes it easier to expel migrants and strip their citizenship.

16) Ontario midwives welcome ‘historic’ victory in pay equity case

Sara Mojtehedzadeh, The Toronto Star

Ontario midwives won a “historic” victory in a groundbreaking pay equity case Monday, after a tribunal ruled the government’s failure to proactively monitor midwives’ compensation and regularly negotiate with them over it constitutes discrimination.

Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi said her countrymen "will not give up Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine," while attending an annual festival organised by the Greek Communist Youth in Athens.

17) 'Shocking' sexual abuse of children by German clergy detailed in report

Kate Connolly, The Guardian

Minister warns abuse of 3,677 children by about 1,670 clerics may be ‘tip of the iceberg’ for Catholic church.

18) Why Québec Solidaire is having the campaign of its life

Jonathan Montpetit · CBC News

No one seems to be having a good campaign these days in Quebec; no one, that is, except a small left-wing party that doesn't believe in leaders and has a campaign bus bereft of journalists.

19) Does Canada support an invasion of Venezuela?

Yves Engler

In their obsession for regime change, Ottawa is backing talk of an invasion of Venezuela. And the NDP is enabling Canada’s interventionist policy.

20) Doug Ford’s History Of Flirting With the Alt-Right and White Nationalists

North 99

Photographs and video of Doug Ford posing with white nationalist Faith Goldy, a woman who expressed support for neo-Nazis, have emerged in recent days.

21) Doug Ford Stands Behind This Photo He Took With a Group of Extremely Racist White Nationalists

Press Progress

Ontario Premier Doug Ford will not disavow a group of white nationalists who took a photo with him over the weekend at “Ford Fest,” even as the white nationalists use the photo for propaganda purposes to legitimize their views.

22) Why do Marxist feminists oppose liberal feminists’ claims that porn and prostitution are liberating for women?

Morgan Horn, Morning Star

We must be clear that the sexualisation of women places men in a position of superiority and impedes class struggle.

23) Thousands protest in Buenos Aires against austerity policies

Al Jazeera

Thousands of people have poured out on to the streets of the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, to protest President Mauricio Macri's economic policies, a day before a nationwide 24-hour strike called for by unions takes place.

24) Judge Restores Grizzly Bears' Protections As Endangered Species

Nate Hegyi, NPR

A federal judge has restored Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears living around Yellowstone National Park.

25) Revealed: less than a third of young men prosecuted for rape are convicted

Alexandra Topping and Caelainn Barr, The Guardian

The crisis engulfing the criminal justice system over its approach to rape cases is revealed by startling figures that show less than a third of prosecutions brought against young men result in a conviction.

26) Díaz-Canel addresses the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit


Addressing the UN as part of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit in New York this Monday, September 24, President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez began by noting Cuba’s pride on having supported the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and recalled the iconic embrace between the Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro and the anti-apartheid leader, Nelson Mandela, who visited Cuba in 1991, shortly after his release from prison.

27) Ontario Government’s attack on local democracy shows need for democratic constitutional reform

Communist Party of Canada Statement

The legal and political battle around the Ontario government’s Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, once again proves the need for democratic constitutional reform in Canada.

28) UK's Labour Party Passes Motion to Ban Arms Sales to Israel


“Ordinary members of the party want Labour to stand up for Palestinian rights. And today for the first time in many years a Palestine motion is on the agenda of the conference."

29) Jeremy Corbyn Promises to ‘Recognize Palestinian State as Soon as We Take Office’


"In order to help make the two-state settlement a reality, we will recognize a Palestinian state as soon as we take office," Corbyn said.

30) B.C.’s climate targets will be impossible to reach if LNG Canada project goes ahead, critics say

Brent Jang, The Globe and Mail

Environmentalists are warning that it will be impossible for British Columbia to reach its climate targets if a Shell-led liquefied natural gas project forges ahead along the northern coast.

31) Right-wing populism on rise in New Brunswick

Thomas Walkom, The Toronto Star

Score one more victory for right-wing populism. The People’s Alliance of New Brunswick made a breakthrough in that province’s election Monday and could end up holding the balance of power in a hung legislature.

Toronto mayoral candidate Saron Gebrasallasi said Tuesday the city needs a mayor who can appeal to working class and “racialized” communities.

32) Ford government scraps minimum wage hike set for 2019

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press 

Ontario's Progressive Conservative government said it will halt a planned increase to minimum wage that was scheduled to kick in next year, following up on a promise made during the spring election campaign.

33) Business groups lobby Ford government to repeal workplace reforms

Mike Crawley · CBC News 

Business groups are urging Premier Doug Ford's government to take away the new sick day and pay equity protections granted to Ontario workers this year.

34) Jacobin Accused of Reneging on Wage Deal in British Takeover of Tribune Magazine

Mike Elk, Payday Report

In his bid to take over the historic British left-wing magazine, The Tribune, Jacobin publisher Bhaskar Sunkara is being accused of reneging on wage deal by employees of the paper, who kept the publication alive during struggling times. Tribune was once the home of such greats as George Orwell and has since become the leading publication associated with the influential Momentum faction within the Labor Party.

35) The British Labour Party and Community Ownership Plans

 John McDonnell, Socialist Project Bullet

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP has unveiled Labour’s plans for a new, publicly-owned water system, run by local councils, workers and customers and for “unprecedented openness and transparency” in how the industry will be managed. Building on Labour’s manifesto commitment to bring key utilities back into public ownership, for the first time McDonnell has outlined in detail how they would do it.

"The U.S. doesn't care about democracy. If it did, it wouldn't threaten democratic countries with military intervention," Morales said.

36) Trump Backs Military Coup in Venezuela Against Maduro


Speaking on the sidelines of the UNGA meeting, an organization meant to promote peace, the U.S. president confirmed his backing for violent military takeovers and interventions.

37) Reactions to anti-Muslim video highlight political double standard

Linda McQuaig, The Toronto Star

Maybe there’s a good reason not to sanction Israel — despite its violation of international law — but then let’s hear our political leaders articulate that reason, rather than simply smacking down anyone who dares to question their silence on the issue.

38) Workers groups cry foul as WSIB celebrates financial milestone

Sara Mojtehedzadeh, The Toronto Star

The workers’ compensation board will slash employers’ premiums by 30 per cent after eliminating its unfunded liability a decade ahead of schedule — a move the province says will boost the economy but labour advocates say could harm workers.

39) World 'nowhere near on track' to avoid warming beyond 1.5C target

Oliver Milman, The Guardian

Author of key UN climate report says limiting temperature rise would require enormous, immediate transformation in human activity.

40) Nigerian unions launch general strike over minimum wage

Chijioke Ohuocha, Reuters  

Nigeria’s main unions launched an indefinite nationwide strike on Thursday in a dispute over the minimum wage after talks with the government broke down a day earlier.

41) Correcting the record on China and Africa

Ian Goodrum, People's World

Media figures in the West will squawk about “colonialism” while denying their own countries’ roles in Africa’s subjugation. Better not to pay them any mind; the results speak for themselves. China is helping the continent toward a better future, while each new statement from the White House shows the U.S. is little more than a fair-weather friend. After all, would a true ally say the kinds of unprintable things President Donald Trump has about the African continent?

42) Ontario becomes a testing ground for hyper austerity

John Clarke, Counterfire

Just three months into its mandate, it is becoming clear that the Tory Government of Ontario, under the leadership of right-wing populist multimillionaire, Doug Ford, is going to unleash an agenda of austerity and privatisation that will be unprecedented in its scale and severity.  Fifteen years of stealthy and incremental Liberal attacks on workers and communities have now given over to a regime of crude and reckless brutality. Under the federal system of government in Canada, the provincial level is where most decisions are made on social policy and, while Ontario is but one of ten provinces, the size of its economy and population will make the results of the unfolding struggle here particularly important, across the Country and internationally.  A successful and massive intensification of the neoliberal agenda here would be a defeat that would threaten to spread while a successful model of resistance would be a precious resource for others to build upon.

43) Canada’s housing affordability has reached the worst level in 28 years, and Toronto is off the charts, report says

Tess Kalinowski, The Toronto Star

Canadian housing affordability has reached its worst level in 28 years with the most severe challenges in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria, says a report from RBC.

44) The Zaghari-Ratcliffe case and Theresa May's outrageous hypocrisy

Alia Al Ghussain, Al Jazeera

The British government is concerned about Iran's political prisoners, but ignores those unjustly detained in the UK.

45) Seven Palestinians, Including 12-year Old, Said Killed by IDF Fire in Gaza Border Clashes

Jack Khoury, Yaniv Kubovich and Almog Ben Zikri, Haaretz

Seven Palestinians, including two boys age 12 and 14, were killed by Israeli military fire during clashes along the Gaza Strip's central and eastern sections of the border fence, the Gaza Health Ministry said on Friday.

12 year old Nasser Musabeh - one of a few kids killed today by Israeli snipers.

RIP little man.

Via Walid Mahmoud on Facebook

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  See also: Kavanaugh Nomination, Corbyn Smears, Amazon & more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos September 16 - 23

Saturday, September 29, 2018

"Not a Grain for War" -- Spanish Anti-Franco Peace Poster c. 1949

"Not a Grain for War" -- Spanish Anti-Franco Peace Poster c. 1949

This poster was part of a resistance campaign by Spanish peasants against the attempts by the post-World War II Spanish fascist Franco regime to squeeze them and seize their land to help finance placing Spain on a war footing. 

You can read more about this situation in Spain at the time in this short article from In Defence of Peace Magazine, March 1950.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Saron Gebresellassi and Walied Khogali Ali: Two Toronto Candidates to Get Excited About

In an election that has been dominated by Doug Ford's crass efforts to gerrymander the Toronto municipal outcome while the Toronto political establishment on both the right and the left lined up to defend the status quo and incumbency, there are a couple of bright spots.

These are Saron Gebresellassi for Mayor and Walied Khogali Ali for Ward 13.

Here, finally, we see municipal candidates running on issues of tremendous importance to the workers, racialized and marginalized in Toronto and doing so in spite of the lack of support from the milquetoast faux "progressive" elite that tries to control the "left" politics of City Hall.

Walied Khogali Ali has put forth a program that is all about the struggle to build community and create spaces of social justice in the neo-liberal city that is Toronto. An activist who has fought for years around many issues his platform includes direct and serious approaches to tackle the fundamentals of housing, transit and inclusion that face the city.

His website can be found here:

Saron Gebresellassi is running what is easily the most left wing campaign for mayor in a generation and it is finally starting to get some notice.

Everything about her platform is solid:
Right to Housing: Recognize that housing is a fundamental human right and that incremental targets alone are not enough. This means we must set in place aggressive plans to provide adequate and sufficient housing for everyone. My first priority will be addressing our housing crisis.
Right to Transit — Towards Free Public Transit: Yes, it’s possible! And the benefits are immense. I will focus on developing a strategy that will set Toronto on a path towards free transit. Free transit will help address climate change, urban gridlock and sprawl, and cut down on spending for road maintenance. 
Right to fair allocation of city resources: Re-prioritize our spending towards more targeted youth employment as well as arts and cultural programming so that no one is left behind, especially from low-income areas and the inner-suburbs
Right to employment outside of the downtown core:  We have to develop proper and sound incentives for businesses to invest outside of downtown Toronto, among other strategies.
Right to Mental Health and Accessibility: Develop an overall mental health and accessibility framework that underpins all aspects of city planning and budgeting. This means that our city’s budgeting should also be filtered through an overall mental health framework that assesses how our policies contribute towards developing positive mental health outcomes.
Right to Diversity in City Politics and City Hiring:  Increasing Diversity in Our Politics and City Hiring. I will call for electoral reform that will create space for fresh faces and voices that reflect diverse backgrounds. I will move towards creating a city-wide employment equity regime that will ensure our city’s workforce and senior leadership reflects the city itself.

Her website can be found here:

These are left candidates that at last strike out past the deadening nothing politics of the NDP downtown establishment, that are not running because of some family last name, and that are running on serious platforms regardless of the empty do-nothing faux endorsements of the "labour council".

There is a lot of work to be done to build a serious left alternative in Toronto.

A solid start would be getting behind these two candidates.

The Four Days of Naples -- Rising Against Fascism, September 27, 1943

From the movie The Four Days of Naples
On September 27, 1943 the people of Naples rose up against the Nazi occupiers and fought them in street battles for four days preventing the Germans from consolidating defensive positions to fight off the Allied advance.

After the Armistice of Cassibile Italy had left the war, though the Nazis and their remaining Italian fascist allies then seized the bulk of Italy and cities such as Naples.

To enforce this new occupation the Germans used extreme brutality including mass executions and indiscriminate reprisals for any resistance.

In Naples it boiled over to the point that ordinary people from all walks of life took to the streets and drove the Nazis back after pitched battles.

Hundreds of women, children and men sacrificed their lives so that on October 1, 1943, the Allied forces could enter the city with the Nazis having already withdrawn.

This singular triumph of people power led to the entire city being awarded the Italian Gold Medal of Military Valour.

The heroic actions were depicted in the 1962 film The Four Days of Naples.

Notable for its realistic style and stark depictions of events it won the Grand Prize at the 3rd Moscow International Film Festival as well as being nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Screenplay.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

We eagerly await his plan for the total disarmament of the United States!

"We cannot allow the world's leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet's most dangerous weapons" - Trump says at the U.N.

We eagerly await his plan for the total disarmament of the United States!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Smolensk, Hero City, Liberated by Red Army September 25, 1943

The Smolensk Hero City Monument in Moscow
On August 7th, 1943, the Red Army's West Front launched an offensive against the Nazi forces centered around the city of Smolensk. This offensive came in the wake of the Red Army's critical victories at Stalingrad and Kursk that turned the tide in the east against the barbaric fascist invaders.

Early in the war, Soviet forces in Smolensk played a critical role in slowing down the Nazi drive on Moscow -- a role that many historians feel directly contributed to the fascists being stopped at the city's gates in December, 1941.

After several weeks of intense fighting, on September 25, 1943, the Red Army liberated Smolensk. In 1985 Smolensk was added to the list of twelve "Hero Cities of the Soviet Union" which include Leningrad and Sevastopol.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Found Art: Meditating on The Cherry Orchard w. When I Write My Masters Thesis, John K. Samson

Found Art: Meditating on The Cherry Orchard
Ink Drawing, Artist Unknown, found at the end of The Cherry Orchard
in a 1968 pocketbook printing of Four Great Plays By Chekhov

Musical Accompaniment:

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Kavanaugh Nomination, Corbyn Smears, Amazon & more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos September 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 September 16 - 23.

There are several articles from prior to the period that have been incorporated into the post.

1) General Strike Mobilizes Costa Rica

Elena Zeledón, Left Voice

The strike has led to Costa Rica’s largest mobilizations in years, and it has left the government isolated and on the defensive, even from its own supporters in the National Assembly.

2) Venezuela, China Sign Security, Energy, and Finance Agreements


China and Venezuela signed 28 bilateral strategic cooperation agreements in the areas of oil, mining, security, technology, finance, and health during the closing ceremony of the XVI High-level Diversified Commission meeting in Beijing Friday.

3) The Underbelly of the Sex-Trade Industry

Amelia Tiganus, Truthdig 

When I was 17, I was sold by a Romanian pimp to a Spanish pimp for 300 pounds [roughly $350]. But the total debt I was told I owed my new pimp was 3,000 pounds, after he had bought me and paid for my travel, documentation, clothes and the “facilities” that they put me in. Like many Romanian girls, I was totally vulnerable, not only because of economic poverty but also because of social exclusion, and being stigmatized for suffering multiple rapes at the age of 13.

4) Michael Gove refuses to condemn Viktor Orban amid row over Tory MEPs backing far-right Hungarian leader

Mikey Smith, The Daily Mirror

It follows claims MEPs backed Orban in the European Parliament because he will be helpful to Britain in Brexit negotiations.

5) The United States Was Responsible for the 1982 Massacre of Palestinians in Beirut

Rashid Khalidi, The Nation

Washington had explicitly guaranteed their safety—and recently declassified documents reveal that US diplomats were told by the Israelis what they and their allies might be up to.

6) 'Why were they killed?': Saudi-UAE attack hits children in Yemen

Al Jazeera 

At least two children were killed in raids on Saada province as UN special envoy arrives in Sanaa for peace talks.

7) Politicians, Organizations Reject Almagro's Threatening Military Intervention In Venezuela


Organizations and political leaders are rejecting statements by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, for inciting military intervention in Venezuela.


The Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro warned that the "conspiracy" against his government "remains underway with the support of the United States", during a press conference Tuesday less than a day after he returned from an official visit in China.

Daniel Finn

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have been subjected to an outrageous campaign of scurrilous smears.

T. J. Coles, Counterfire 

History shows that the deep state will always mobilise all its resources against even a relatively moderate left-reformist like Corbyn

Via Facebook

11) California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault

Emma Brown, The Washington Post 

Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. Since Wednesday, she has watched as that bare-bones version of her story became public without her name or her consent, drawing a blanket denial from Kavanaugh and roiling a nomination that just days ago seemed all but certain to succeed.

12) Kavanaugh And Accuser To Testify Publicly Before Senators Next Week

Scott Horsley, NPR

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexual assault more than three decades ago, Christine Blasey Ford, will both testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 24. The committee was supposed to vote on the nomination this Thursday but faced pressure after Ford went public with her allegation over the weekend.

13) Republican men — and not a single GOP woman — will be Christine Blasey Ford's interrogators on the Senate Judiciary Committee

Alexander Nazaryan, Yahoo News

That has some wondering whether the hearing will go through — and, if it does, how hard 11 men will work to discredit a single woman.

14) Kavanaugh’s accuser had to move out of her home after getting death threats

David Gilbert, Vice News

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh won’t have to face the woman who accused him of sexual assault just yet.

15) The Brett Kavanaugh case shows we still blame women for the sins of men

Rebecca Solnit, The Guardian 

We have been here before. We have been here over and over in an endless, Groundhog Day loop about how rape and sexual abuse happen: offering the same explanations, hearing the same kind of stories from wave after wave of survivors, hearing the same excuses and refusals to comprehend from people who are not so sure that women are endowed with inalienable rights and matter as much as men – or, categorically, have as much credibility. We are, with the case of Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee for the US supreme court, who has been accused of sexual assault, revisiting ground worn down from years of pacing. Kavanaugh denies Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that he forcibly held her down and assaulted her when both were at high school. We have only the accounts of the participants, and these, it seems, will always contradict each other. The allegation and the denial put us back in a familiar scenario.

16) After the Kavanaugh Allegations, Republicans Offer a Shocking Defense: Sexual Assault Isn’t a Big Deal

Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker 

Ever since the professor Christine Blasey Ford revealed that she was the woman who had accused the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, in a previously confidential letter, the conservative attempt to protect Kavanaugh from her story has been, to put it mildly, forceful. Ford claims that, in the early nineteen-eighties, when they were both attending prestigious private high schools in suburban Maryland, Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party. Republicans have framed this story as a craven act of character assassination rather than an account worth investigating before Kavanaugh receives a lifetime appointment to make pivotal decisions about the future of the nation—including decisions about, for example, the options that will be available to women if they get pregnant after being raped.

17) Spokesman for GOP on Kavanaugh nomination resigns; has been accused of harassment in the past

Heidi Przybyla, NBC News 

An adviser for the Senate Judiciary Committee has resigned amid questions from NBC News about a previous sexual harassment complaint.

18) Court Employees Ready To Come Forward About Brett Kavanaugh, But Fear Retaliation

 Steph Bazzle, The Hill Reporter

Brett Kavanaugh is Donald Trump’s pick for the SCOTUS seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy, and he’s increasingly surrounded by controversy. After a woman who says Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in high school came forward to share her story, an attorney is sharing a letter he says he sent to Senators in July, letting them know that federal court employees also have concerns.

19) Jian Ghomeshi Doesn’t Deserve Anyone’s Pity

 Manisha Krishnan, Vice News

Life has seemingly been hard for disgraced former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi since he was publicly accused of abusing at least 23 women and fired from his job.

20) Fact-Checking Jian Ghomeshi’s Comeback Attempt

Jesse Brown, Canadaland 

Had The New York Review of Books bothered to look into Ghomeshi's claims before publishing his essay, this is what they would have learned.

21) Freddie Oversteegen, Dutch resistance fighter who killed Nazis through seduction, dies at 92

Harrison Smith, The Washington Post 

She was 14 when she joined the Dutch resistance, though with her long, dark hair in braids she looked at least two years younger.

Victor Jara was killed at the age 40, but his trove of music and poetry along with his tragic destiny has made him into a celebrated symbol against the brutality faced by those judged persona non grata by the Pinochet regime.

22) Argentina: 10,600 Public Workers Let Go in Just Two Months


A new report shows that since President Mauricio Macri took office in late 2015 over 33,700 state workers have been laid off. Unemployment rose 2.6 points.  

23) Unionized Canada Line janitors lose jobs as new company gets cleaning contract

Carlito Pablo, The Georgia Straight

It’s the end of the line for 50 janitors belonging to Local 2 of the Service Employees International Union.

24) Davos For Fascists

Brendan O’Connor, The Nation

Last weekend, at an airport hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, hundreds of aging Caucasian conservatives gathered for a three-day long conference attended predominantly by Republican white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and European neofascists. The event was co-organized by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum—a militantly anti-feminist, anti-choice, paleoconservative organization founded in 1972—and The Gateway Pundit, a far-right blog that peddled so many anti-Clinton hoaxes during the 2016 election that it obtained a White House credential.

25) German Holocaust Controversy Reveals Brazil's Growing Alt-Right


Brazil has a long history of German migration that dates back to the 19th century. Many Nazis fled to southern Brazil and other South American countries after World War II, including Josef Mengele of Auschwitz notoriety.

26) Murder Trial of Berta Caceres Suspended in Honduras


The first trial for the murder of Honduran Indigenous activist Berta Caceres was suspended on Monday in Tegucigalpa. Caceres was assassinated on Mar. 2, 2016 in La Esperanza in western Honduras, after battling for years to stop the construction of an internationally-financed hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River which the Lenca people consider sacred.

27) The Number Of Workers Wanting To Join Unions Is The Highest In 40 Years

Sahid Fawaz, Labor 411

More and more non-union workers want to belong to a union.

28) 'Dumbest Policy in the World': Report Details How Canada's Massive Fossil Fuel Subsidies Undermine Climate Action

Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams

Working to curb emissions while using public funds to subsidize oil and gas industry "is like trying to bail water out of a leaky boat"

29) I worked in an Amazon warehouse. Bernie Sanders is right to target them

James Bloodworth, The Guardian

In some US states, nearly one in three Amazon workers are on food stamps. Sanders would rightly tax companies whose employees require federal benefits.

30) The dangers of not vaccinating are horrifying and graphic. Government warnings must show that

Jason Chung and Sabrina Jeanty · CBC News · 

Canada has managed to find the most predictable and mundane way to deal with a burgeoning public health crisis.

31) ‘Tied to trees and raped’: UN report details Rohingya horrors

Michael Safi, The Guardian

UN investigators publish report detailing evidence for accusation of genocide against Burmese military.

Via Appalachia Revolt on Facebook

32) Sexual violence and non-consensual sex rising due to porn, finds survey

Simon Collins, NZ Herald

Rape culture and sexual violence may be gaining ground in New Zealand because of pornography, a new survey has found.

33) Ontario’s appeal court sides with Ford government, paves way for 25-ward Toronto election

Nick Westoll and David Shum, Global News

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has granted the province’s request to stay a lower court judge’s decision that set aside a law slashing the size of Toronto city council.

34) UN chief: World has less than 2 years to avoid ‘runaway climate change'

Aris Folley, The Hill

António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, told global leaders this week that the world has less than two years to avoid “runaway climate change.”

35) SQ officers ignore repeated calls to remove 'solidarity' symbol from vests

Catou MacKinnon · CBC News

Indigenous leaders, inquiry witnesses call red band worn by SQ officers ‘intimidation and provocation’.

36) Voter fraud isn’t real. Voter suppression is

Denise Balkissoon, The Globe and Mail

“You just keep saying voter fraud, voter fraud, voter fraud, voter fraud, rampant voter fraud, voter fraud – until it sounds like the truth.” That, said professor Carol Anderson, is how politicians get away with introducing restrictions aimed at stifling certain voters.

37) 5 ways Puerto Rico is forever changed by Hurricane Maria

Alex Lubben, Vice News

A week before the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rican police found millions of water bottles that were never delivered to survivors at an airstrip near the island’s east coast. The discovery raised, yet again, the question of whether authorities responded to the disaster effectively.

38) Palestinian Poet Dareen Tatour Released From Israeli Prison


Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour was released early on Thursday after serving a month and a half in an Israeli prison over posting a resistance poem on social media in 2016. She was accused of 'incitement to violence' and 'supporting terror' through her social media posts.

39) Rural postal carriers to get big pay hike

Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

Rural and suburban postal workers across Canada celebrated Thursday after an arbitrator ordered Canada Post to pay them more — much more — as part of a long-awaited pay equity decision.

40) Jordan Peterson Threatened to Sue a Critic for Calling Him a Misogynist

Irin Carmon, The Cut

Best-selling author Jordan Peterson first shot to fame by styling himself as a free-speech warrior at the University of Toronto, where he teaches psychology. Objecting to trans people’s requests that he use their preferred pronouns, Peterson said in 2016, “I don’t recognize another person’s right to determine what pronouns I use to address them.” Later, he told the BBC, “I’ve studied authoritarianism for a very long time — for 40 years — and they’re [sic] started by people’s attempts to control the ideological and linguistic territory.”

41) Lengthy labour dispute in Newfoundland offers refresher course in picket-line reality

Jim Stanford, The Globe and Mail

Union work stoppages have become quite rare in Canada. In the current decade, strikes and lockouts have accounted for less than one-30th of 1 per cent of all working time – down more than 90 per cent from the strike-prone 1970s. The year 2016 set a new postwar low: just 631,870 days lost, breaking the previous record set in 1960 (even though today’s work force is more than /three times bigger). And more of those disputes these days are lockouts – when employers stop production until the workers concede – rather than strikes, when unions take the lead.

42) Ontario students walk out of class to protest sex-ed curriculum changes

Nicole Thompson · The Canadian Press

Students across Ontario walked out of class on Friday to protest the provincial government's decision to repeal a modernized version of the sex-ed curriculum.

43) Now Israel Has a Race Law

Gideon Levy, Haaretz

From now on by court decree, two types of blood exist in Israel: Jewish blood and non-Jewish blood.

On this day, 21 September 1976, Chilean socialist refugee Orlando Letelier and think tank worker Ronni Moffitt were murdered in Washington DC by a car bomb planted by Pinochet's secret police. The killings by agents of the US-backed dictator General Pinochet were part of Operation Condor, a Latin American anti-communist program supported by the US which killed up to 60,000 working class militants, socialists and anarchists.

Via Working Class History on Facebook

44) Windrush generation members to be refused UK citizenship, government announces

May Bulman, The Independent

Critics say it is 'scandalous' that Home Office should subject Windrush citizens to conditions other British citizens are not and raise concerns around absence of appeals process.

45) ICE is arresting immigrant kids’ sponsors because they are also undocumented

Tess Owen, Vice News

The Trump administration has been arresting dozens of undocumented individuals who offer to host immigrant children. And a significant number of those arrests were for immigration violations rather than criminal activity.

46) Chile Convicts 20 Pinochet-Era Intelligence Agents for Role in Operation Condor


The former agents were found responsible for the kidnapping, torturing, murdering and disappearing 12 civilians.

47) A man was ignored to death in an ER 10 years ago. It could happen again.

Jane Gerster, Global News

“Brian Sinclair died because he was Indigenous,” Lavallee says, “full stop.”

48) Doug Ford Caught Posing for Photo With White Supremacist Sympathizer Faith Goldy

North 99

Well-known Canadian alt-right and white supremacist sympathizer Faith Goldy was caught posing for a photograph Premier Doug Ford during Ford Nation, Doug Ford’s annual community event.

See also: Notwithstanding, Indian Protests, Tesla & more -- The Week in News, Opinion and Videos September 9 - 16

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Dispatches from the American terror state

There is a profound irony to the persistence and acceptance of the notion that the United States is somehow a "free" country whose citizens and residents do not have to worry about state terror or to "live in fear".

When on September 12  "An unidentified gunman shot and killed five people in a series of shootings on Wednesday in Southern California before taking his own life" the county sheriff said “This is the new normal, if you look across the country”. 

No question. Though not really all that new.

Perpetual violence has long been a norm, especially when directed at people from racialized or marginalized communities.

Many of the victims have been killed by the armed wing of the state, the police.

Between January 1, 2017 and June 20, 2018, American cops killed 1,506 people. Despite representing only 13.4% of the population African Americans were at least 21.58% of those killed.

These numbers are far in excess of police killings - actual or proportional - in any other "developed democracies". As just one example Germany, with a population of 82 million, had just 14 killings by police in all of 2017 versus 987 in the land of the free.

If you are not getting killed by the cops, your fellow Americans will oblige. In just one 48 hour period this past week the headlines read "Gunman wounds 4 in Pennsylvania court building lobby, is killed by police" and "Woman kills 3 before fatally shooting herself at Rite Aid distribution center in Maryland, officials say". The only remarkable aspect to this commonplace American news was that one of these mass shootings involved a woman shooter, an occurrence that is extremely rare.

Approximately 17,250 Americans will be murdered in 2018, and over 12,000 of the murders will be committed by a gun. "The U.S. gun homicide rate is 25 times that of other high-income countries." In excess of 21,000 Americans will commit suicide using a gun while the "U.S. gun suicide rate is eight times that of other high-income countries".

The American terror state has more than one way to ruin your life or kill you though. Thanks to a political class beholden to business interests and grotesque libertarian narratives, Americans remain the only people in a developed nation without some type of system of universal health care.

This leads to such awful spectacles as that of a "6-year-old selling lemonade to help with mom's chemotherapy" in Texas. As of May, 2018, the "number of uninsured adults between the ages of 19 and 64 rose to 15.5 percent in March 2018, up from 12.7 percent in 2016. An estimated 4 million people lost individual coverage during that period"

Of course, many millions of Americans are a pay check or two away from destitution or no medical insurance, living in a state of perpetual financial anxiety. In 2017 a survey by the US Federal Reserve found that "Some 44% of people said they could not cover an unexpected $400 emergency expense or would rely on borrowing or selling something to do so".

Further, some "50.8 million households or 43 percent of households can’t afford a basic monthly budget for housing, food, transportation, child care, health care and a monthly smartphone bill". 

This is nearly HALF of all American households.

40.6 million people in the United States live in poverty. 

"According to the World Bank, 769 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2013; they are the world’s very poorest. Of these, 3.2 million live in the United States." In what is seen as the wealthiest nation in the world.

This has countless ripple effects. "Infant mortality rates in the US exceed those in all other developed countries and in many less developed countries, suggesting political factors may contribute".   It also means that "Americans lead shorter and less healthy lives than people in other high-income countries" and "the largest share of the American health disadvantage is likely to be borne by the poor and least educated, who have much higher rates of disease and death than their counterparts in Europe".

Meanwhile American business interests have been so successful in destroying the rights of workers and in creating neo-feudal "right to work" and " at-will employment" anti-union states that you can have a situation where "Employers can fire employees who evacuated for hurricane in North Carolina". And some employers did.

In these states "private-sector employees can be fired for any reason – or no reason at all", leaving workers in a place where the guillotine is always over their heads.

Unsurprisingly, given this, "Americans are piling on debt way faster than the economy is growing"

Remember none of these things are "tragedies" or somehow random events. They are directly the result of choices made by the American state and its officials and representatives right or "left". The consequence of the destruction of the very temporary post-war "social compromise". The creation of a political, intellectual and business class that wanted to ensure the permanent disenfranchisement, debasement and disempowerment of working people, the marginalized, the racialized and people living in poverty.

Daily violence, death and suffering rising out of the ashes of a class war that the corporations and wealthy have, for now, unequivocally won.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko calls anti-Nazi war hero a "terrorist" while labeling an American war criminal a "hero"

This is Ivan Kudrya. Kudrya was an anti-Nazi Ukrainian resistance hero who was brutally murdered by them in November, 1942 after being tortured for months.

As background about Kudrya:
A Red Army officer, he remained in Kiev after the Red Army retreat in 1941. He managed to organize a group of anti-fascist fighters, blowing up bridges, railroads and offices.
Ivan Kudrya’s subversive anti-fascist group managed to blow up many buildings in Kiev center during the occupation, along with an old church that was frequently visited by Nazi officers.
In late 1941 they blew up 2 cinemas in Kiev full of Nazi officers. Fluently speaking German, members of the group posed as German officers, arresting some Ukrainian Nazi collaborationists. In August 1941 they managed to kill some leaders of Ukrainian fascists from OUN. In late 1941 they blew up the hotel where the Nazi headquarters in Kiev was situated, killing some 320 Nazi officers and local Nazi collaborationists. In 1942 Kudrya’s group burned an oil-refinery and a dozen warehouses in Kiev.
He worked with fellow resistance fighter Kiev Opera singer Raisa Okipnaya, She was also eventually caught and executed at one of the Babi Yar massacres.

For his heroic actions a street in Kiev was named after him in 1965.

Recently Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko suggested that this street should be named after American war criminal John McCain  -- who he described as a "hero of Ukraine" -- instead. Kudrya, on the other had, he described as a "terrorist".

It is an interesting regime that sees a man who gave his life fighting the Nazis in his homeland as a "terrorist" while viewing as a "hero" a man who illegally carpet bombed Vietnamese civilians and supported many other American war crimes as a reactionary American Senator. 

Further Reading:

News of the absurd: NDP MLAs get "Hammer and Sickle" vodka pulled from Alberta stores

Secrets and Lies -- Chrystia Freeland's grandfather and collaborating with the Nazis

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic 1987: Photos, Culture, Economy, History & more -- Socialist Republics of the Soviet Union Series

In the mid-1980s the Soviet press agency Novosti released a series of small books looking the USSR's 15 republics. Each book dealt with a republic's history, culture, development, industry, agriculture, etc. They provide a fascinating look at the Soviet Union's accomplishments and plans. The series was known as the "Socialist Republics of the Soviet Union".

Over the coming weeks we will be taking a look at these books and the republics. The books will be slightly edited for length and repetition in some cases and the photographs and illustrations will be dispersed more evenly throughout the text.

In our first post we looked at the Kirghiz SSR. Here we look at the Tajik SSR which bordered the Kirghiz and Uzbek SSRs as well as China and Afghanistan. Written by Mukhamed Asimov, the booklet touches on the ancient past of the Tajik people and the dramatic growth of its economy, educational facilities, healthcare, etc, during the Soviet era.

It also provides an interesting history of the revolutionary struggle in the region during the civil war including the fight against counter-revolutionary bands, the ouster of the final Emir in 1921 and the examples of figures like Zainabbibi Kurbanova, the first woman to head a district Soviet, who was murdered by anti-communists.

There are pages of photographs showing the people and places of Tajikistan, including sports, traditional costumes, tourism and more.

Other interesting topics include the development of the cotton industry and farming more generally, the fact that the Soviet system adapted itself to Tajik culture by decentralizing workplaces to accommodate cultural traditions, the rise of scientific institutions after the revolution, and festivals and traditions such as Gushtigiri (a sport whose winner was awarded a young lamb) and Nowruz, the Persian New Year (called Navruz here).

Also included are looks at the rise of the Tajik capital of Dushambe  (or Dushanbe) from a town of 6,000 in 1926 to a metropolis of 600,000 in 1987, the importance of bazaars to Tajikistan, issues around a lack of architectural diversity reflective of traditions due to rapid urban expansion and the remarkable work of Soviet and other archaeologists at the time to investigate the Tajik past. 

(Click on scans to enlarge)