Saturday, July 31, 2010

Organic farming leader Elmer Laird dies at 86

A celebration in remembrance of Elmer's life will be held on Saturday, August 7, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. from The Davidson Town Hall, Davidson, Sask. There will be an open mike for anyone wishing to share a story or two of Elmer. For friends so wishing memorials in memory of Elmer may be directed to The Back To The Farm Research Foundation, any environmental project or to any local charity. Interment to follow at a later date. Hanson's Funeral Home Davidson in care of arrangements.

Emer Laird: Environmentasl Champion NYC link here.

By CBC News

Elmer Laird, one of Saskatchewan's leaders in organic farming, has died at the age of 86.

Laird died Saturday at a nursing home in the province. The cause of death was not known.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Banks of Marble

Banks of marble link.

Venezuelan Inventiveness, Marxism, and Vernacular Revolutionary Traditions

By John Bellamy Foster
Monthly Review, July 8th 2010

I’m certain that this process is irreversible. This movement of change, of restructuring, of revolution, will not be stopped. —Hugo Chávez, 2002

In the eyes of much of the world, the year 1989 has come to stand for the fall of the Berlin Wall, the demise of Soviet-type societies, and the defeat of twentieth-century socialism.

However, 1989 for many others, particularly in Spanish-speaking countries, is also associated with the beginning of the Latin American revolt against neoliberal shock therapy and the emergence in the years that followed of a “socialism for the 21st century.” This revolutionary turning point in Latin American (and world) history is known as the Caracazo or Sacudón (heavy riot), which erupted in Caracas, Venezuela on February 27, 1989, and quickly became “by far the most massive and severely repressed riot in the history of Latin America.”
Read more here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Political Art

What is political art? What makes art political?

By Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin

It is very difficult to define political art. Views on what makes art political can range from the idea that all art is political (i.e. it either implicitly supports or explicitly opposes the status quo) to pointing out, for example, the obviously political murals on walls around Belfast.

As a way of narrowing the former and broadening the latter I suggest here a view of political art that uses three categories: Portrayal, Promotion, or Projection.
Read more here.

Waste Deep in the Big Muddy

Exploiting "Crisis" to Crush Labor

By Mark Weisbrot

One thing should be made clear about the situation in the Eurozone economies that is not clear at all if we rely on most of the news reports. This is not a situation where countries face a "dilemma" because they have overspent and piled up too much public debt. They do not face "tough choices" that will force them to cut spending and raise taxes while the economy is weak or in recession, in order to "satisfy financial markets."

What is really going on is that powerful interests within these countries -- including Spain, Greece, Ireland, and Portugal -- are taking advantage of the situation to make the changes that they want. Perhaps even more importantly the European authorities -- including the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the IMF -- who are holding the purse strings of any bailout funds are even more committed than the national governments to right-wing policy changes. And they are further removed from any accountability to any electorate.

Onion News

Christian Groups: Biblical Armageddon Must Be Taught Alongside Global Warming

Mozambique's `recolonisation'

[The following article first appeared in AfricaFile's At Issue Ezine, vol. 12 (May-October 2010), edited by John S. Saul, which examines the development of the southern African liberation movement-led countries. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

Frelimo poster for its third congress in 1977

By John S. Saul

I first knew Mozambique through close contact in Dar es Salaam with Frelimo [Frente de Libertação de Moçambique, the Liberation Front of Mozambique] in the early and difficult years – the 1960s and the first half of 1970s – of its armed liberation struggle. Then Mozambique was seeking both to unite itself and to find political and military purchase against an intransigent and arrogant Portuguese colonialism. And Frelimo – under the leadership of, first, Eduardo Mondlane (to be assassinated by the Portuguese) and, after him, of Samora Machel – did indeed manage, by 1975, to lead the country to victory. Along the way, Frelimo succeeded in liberating zones in Mozambique adjacent to its rear bases in Tanzania and Zambia where it built a new social infrastructure of agricultural co-ops, schools and health services. Equally important, it forged an impressive corps of politically conscious and disciplined leadership cadres (see Cabaço, 2001 and 2009).

Then, in the very first years of Mozambique’s independence, Frelimo also launched a bold experiment in socialist development. The intention: to implement a society-wide program that would liberate the country’s economic potential while also meeting the needs of the vast majority of Mozambique’s population. The result? As Norrie MacQueen, a careful chronicler of the The Decolonization of Portuguese Africa (1997: pp. 236-7), would firmly state of former "Portuguese Africa," the initial plans of Portugal’s "guerilla enemies" did offer "a clear alternative to the cynical manipulation of ethnicity and the neo-colonial complaisance of the kleptocratic elites who increasingly defined African governance in the 1970s and 1980s".
Read more here.

What work is really worth

The UK budget, and the next five years of government policy, means to persuade, or force, the workless into work. A new study examines the value of work, not to a company or organisation, but to society as a whole.

By Pierre Rimbert
Le Monde

Imagine for a moment we asked a crucial, and crucially different, economic question – not what are you paid, but what is the social return on the investment that is your pay? What do you contribute to society in exchange for your pay? It’s a reversed version of the usual monetary value question: what do you contribute to shareholders for your cost?

Three UK researchers, Eilis Lawlor, Helen Kersley and Susan Reed, overseen by the New Economic Foundation, did some original work (1) on inequalities by comparing the remuneration of professions at the top and bottom of the pay scale with the social value of their jobs. They decided that a worker at a recycling plant, on £6.10 an hour, was quite valuable as “each pound spent as salary will generate £12 worth of value for the whole community”. But “while collecting salaries of between £500,000 and £10m, leading City bankers destroy £7 of social value for every pound in value they generate.” The trio foresaw that the global result of the best-paid activities can be negative.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

CUPE and Métis Nation historic partnership

CUPE partners with the Métis Nation to celebrate Back to Batoche

After many successful meetings with Robert Doucette, President of the Saskatchewan Métis Nation CUPE’s Aboriginal Council, CUPE Saskatchewan and CUPE National are forging ahead to sign a partnership agreement with the Métis Nation. This event will take place on July 21 at the 125th anniversary of Back to Batoche Days in Saskatchewan.

As CUPE and the Métis Nation sign this historic partnership agreement Paul Moist, CUPE National President and one of the signatories says, “CUPE will be the model of unions being inclusive of Aboriginal members”.

Back to Batoche Days
Taking place at the Batoche site, 90 km southwest of Prince Albert, Back To Batoche Days has been an annual event of the Métis since the mid‐ to late 1880s. This event will take place from July 18 to the 25, 2010 and crowds are expected to exceed 40,000.

The Back to Batoche event is a showcase for Métis culture. You can have bullets and bangs, bannock and all kinds of wild meat and fresh fish. You will see the historic dress and brightly colored sashes of the Métis. Jigging and fiddling competitions begin along with the next Métis Idol. Of course a Métis event is not that without entertainment for the children, and many events will satisfy this.

The highlight of the Métis days will be the Michelle Wright concert and the rodeo with the Canadian ranked Aboriginal cowboys and others competing for the Canadian title in this sanctioned event.

CUPE will have materials available at the Back to Batoche Days, including a booklet showing how CUPE has changed its structure to be inclusive of Aboriginal members, as well as an outline of Métis Nation history. You can also pick up a CUPE cookbook with delicious Aboriginal food recipes to try at home.

The CUPE Aboriginal Canoe Trip
During this year’s event, CUPE members will be paddling the Saskatchewan River for three days, finishing at Batoche. The canoe trip is planned for July 19 to 21. CUPE expects to be joined on the last leg of the river by Métis elders, community groups and others. The Métis Nation will offer a formal welcoming on the banks of the river when the CUPE canoeists arrive.

The Aboriginal Council of CUPE Saskatchewan organized its first canoe trip to Batoche in July 2003 with 17 participants. Since then, the annual canoe trip has grown in size and renown, with 40 canoeists making the three-day journey this year.

Tom Graham, CUPE Saskatchewan President believes, “This is another step in forging a great relationship with the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan.”

Research project
CUPE and the Métis Nation are also working together on a document about the history of the Métis. CUPE Researcher and writer of the document, Cheryl Stadnichuk, says that this is more than history, this is educational tool which will help people realize the great contributions the Métis made to Canada.

Melanie Medlicott, CUPE’s Saskatchewan Regional Director said, “CUPE’s image seems to be changing in the Métis community and initiatives, events and partnerships such as this are working to connect the different communities.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Beyond the Bubble: Imagining A New Canadian Economy

BOOK REVIEW: Laxer, James. 2009. Beyond the Bubble: Imagining A New Canadian Economy. Toronto: Between the Lines.

Reviewed by Ingo Schmidt
Athabasca University

Here is yet another book on the 2008-09 financial crisis and its fallout. One might wonder why anyone should pick up Laxer’s book after Paul Krugman reissued his 1999 Return of Depression Economics (W.W. Norton & Company, 2009), expanded with an update on the recent crisis. Certainly, Laxer is a prolific writer on Canadian political economy, but Krugman is a Noble Prize-winning economist, New York Times columnist, and the most referenced author in Laxer’s book. Still, the remainder of this review will present reasons to get a copy of Beyond the Bubble.

First of all, let’s have a look at the topics and ideas that distinguish Laxer’s book in a positive way compared to so many others on the financial crisis. One is that it looks beyond financial markets to argue that the financial crisis is a symptom of troubles caused elsewhere in the production and distribution of wealth. With this wider scope on the so-called real economy and financial markets, Laxer arrives at solutions to the crisis beyond financial regulations of some sort or another. A related distinguishing feature of the book is that its historical outlook is not restricted to a comparison of the Great Depression of the 1930s with the Great Recession (to use Krugman’s term) of today. Laxer thinks in much longer historical terms. In chapter 3, he takes readers all the way back to 17th century Netherlands and their tulip bubble and the early 18th century’s ‘South Sea Bubble’ in Britain.

Nobody's Poster Child

Why the “Canadian Model” Cannot Be Used to Promote Financial Liberalization at the World Trade Organization

by Ellen Gould
National Office, CCPA

Despite the 2008 financial meltdown, the World Trade Organization continues to negotiate new rules that would promote foreign takeover of domestic banks and more deregulation. WTO advocates are using Canada to argue that a country can liberalize its financial sector yet suffer comparatively less from financial shocks.

This study by CCPA Research Associate Ellen Gould shows how the opposite conclusion should be drawn from the Canadian experience, since limits Canada placed on its WTO liberalization were key to stabilizing the banking system during the financial crisis.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I Read Some Marx (And I Liked It)

G20 Protests: Fighting Back Against the Police State

By Alan Sears

On Monday, June 28, a large and boisterous demonstration of about 2500 people that snaked through the streets of Toronto continued the movement to rid this city of the police state regime that took over during the G20 summit. The leaders of the G20 had gone. As expected, their gathering had focussed on finding new ways to restore corporate profits by taking it out of the workers and the poor. But the movement against the police state regime and the G8/G20 agenda is continuing.

The police prepared for the protests by creating an inside-out prison, in which the inmates were “free” while the rest of us faced a lockdown. Gangs of heavily-equipped police roamed the streets and the subways. People were searched at random. Miles of wall were erected to keep us from Stephen Harper and his summit. An extraordinary regulation was adopted by the provincial cabinet in secret to suspend civil rights near the wall.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Generating Momentum

Generating Momentum Activist Leadership Training Camp will be held August 29-September 1, 2010.

Generating Momentum is a province wide, 4 day leadership training event for youth and young adults located in the Qu’Appelle Valley. If you are 18-29 years of age and passionate about social and/or environmental justice, this camp is for you!! Lodging and meals are included in your registration costs. Updates, announcements and camp details will be posted here regularly! If you are a student or low-income citizen, please email for bursary application information. The camp has limited capacity and will fill up, so don’t hesitate, register today!!

Generating Momentum will be an educational, skills-based, action-oriented event. The workshops and training sessions may include:

- Media and Messaging on international development and other issues
- Political Strategy and Structure
- History of Social Movements in Saskatchewan and around the world
- Communication Tools
- Civic and Public Law
- Campaign Tools
- Group Activism– Justice, tolerance, anti-racism, anti-oppression and democracy
– Solidarity locally and internationally and Solutions locally and internationally
– Understanding and affecting power politics
– Social networking, volunteer recruitment, media and messaging
– Personal sustainability
– Strategic planning, event coordinating and project management
– Creative activism
– Building a movement and Being a movement
– Getting the Roots Poverty

This event will also allow participants to meet and network with a diverse group of people, and make new
friends! Hiking, canoeing, music/art jams, and other fun activities will be available for participants outside of
workshop times!

Register Here.
SCIC here.

What is the Creative Class?

By Emily Eaton
Briarpatch, July/Aug 2010

The “creative class” is a concept developed by Richard Florida that proposes a new way of understanding the engines driving wealth creation. Florida charts a shift in North America away from manufacturing economies focused on mass production to “post-industrial” economies where the new drivers of economic development are creative professionals, specifically a “super-creative core” (including artists and designers) and “creative professionals” (including managers and lawyers).

According to Florida, the creative class chooses to locate themselves in cities with cultural amenities and favourable environments including diverse populations. It follows that urban policy should invest in attracting creative professionals, with the assumption that creative industries and broader economic growth will follow. Communities that have embraced Florida’s approach have seen public resources channelled toward cultural consumption and a reduced emphasis on economic redistribution or the development of local wealth. For example, resources may be spent on art galleries and museums designed by world-famous architects while public housing and other basic services experience tightened budgets.

Florida’s critics respond that creative economies still rely on inputs from manufacturing industries in the Global South premised on low-wage, precarious work. Furthermore, creative class policies are often accompanied by rising inequality, as a wide range of low-paid and precarious service work is needed to meet creative professionals’ consumption practices. Others point to the process of gentrification that tends to accompany creative-class policies, whereby public funding is funnelled into producing safe and welcoming spaces for a more affluent class.

According to the Toronto-based activist group Creative Class Struggle’s mission statement:

“‘Creative class’ policies are designed to build money-making cities rather than secure livelihoods for real people. These policies celebrate a society based on inequality, in which a select group of glorified professionals is supported by an invisible army of low-wage service workers. Seduced by the promise of prosperity and growth, governments around the world are reorienting their economies along these ‘creative’ class lines without consulting immigrants, women, people of colour, low-wage workers, and others directly affected by their decisions. Divisive ‘creative class’ policies, implemented in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, serve only to increase the vulnerability of the vulnerable and further empower the powerful.”

For more information, see

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Benjamin Franklin

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Written by Benjamin Franklin, with quotation marks but almost certainly his original thought, sometime shortly before February 17, 1775 as part of his notes for a proposition at the Pennsylvania Assembly, as published in Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin (1818). Wikipedia.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Democracy Died (Again) at G20 Toronto

Window breakers get jailed, peaceful protests get ignored, leaders do what they wish in secret, the rest of us are alienated. As intended.

By Crawford Kilian
2 July 2010

Since at least the APEC protests of 1997, and the Battle of Seattle in 1998, international politics has followed a script.

Far away from the United Nations, the great national leaders meet face to face when they don't really need to. But it's a photo op, and the world's media take lots of photos.

Few crowds ever gather outside UN headquarters in New York. But for these meetings, hundreds or thousands of protesters crowd the streets, objecting to whatever their leaders are deciding. Windows get broken, protesters get pepper-sprayed and jailed, TV reports this, and the leaders fly home.

The Toronto G20 meeting in late June did not change the genre. But the predictability of the narrative should make us consider what it's really saying.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Painful Birth of a New German President

By Victor Grossman

It all began with a jolt, and hasn't stopped jolting yet! Presidents in Germany are not too important; they do have a veto right, make occasional speeches, pin on medals and take the oaths of new cabinet ministers, making them a notch or two more useful than Elizabeth II.

When President Koehler set a precedent a month ago by resigning after an ill-considered interview admitting far too candidly that German troops were sent abroad for commercial purposes, it came as a surprise but got hardly more attention than rougher problems like winning in a world soccer championships in South Africa. But the sudden decision kept gaining importance like a snowball setting off a minor avalanche.

Read more here.

Crises of Capitalism: An RSA animation video

If you watch just one funny and handsome Marxist critique of the financial crisis, make it the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce's animated version of David Harvey's RSA speech "Crises of Capitalism."

 It's been making the rounds, and for good reason: Mr. Harvey, a Marxist scholar who heads CUNY's Center for Place, Culture & Politics, describes not just the failures that caused the ongoing fiasco, but the failure of how we've explained it.

"It's crap," he says. "You should know it's crap, and say it is. And we have a duty, it seems to me, those of us who are academics, and seriously involved in the world, to actually change our mode of thinking."