Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Selling Potash Corp, greed and market fundamentalism

By Dennis Gruending
Pulpit and Politics

The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan is poised for sale to the highest bidder, and shareholders, not to mention company executives, stand to stuff their pockets from a deal when and if it occurs. The company has spurned as inadequate an offer of $38.6-billion (U.S.) from an Australian-based giant called BHP Billiton and has also been in talks with other companies, including two from China. The great and tragic irony for the people of Saskatchewan is that in 1989 a provincial government sold Crown-owned PCS for $630 million, a minute fraction of what it may sell for now. It’s like selling your house and having the new owner flip it for 60 times the price. What has this to do with a blog called Pulpit and Politics? Let’s start with the morality of greed, market fundamentalism, and the common good.

I was a young journalist with a ringside seat in Saskatchewan in 1975 when a government led by Premier Allan Blakeney took over half of the potash industry. I later wrote a biography of Blakeney called Promises to Keep and the potash story is told in that book. Potash (potassium chloride) is used as a component in farm fertilizers, which are in growing demand, notably in China and India, countries that have enormous populations to feed. Saskatchewan has the largest potash deposits in the world.

Read more here.

Socialist Film Review: Salt

Salt leaves a bad taste in the mouth

By Joanne Laurier

After directing a number of sensitive and socially aware films, Australian director Phillip Noyce has taken a major step backward with his new movie Salt, a tired post-Cold War thriller. Was this absolutely necessary?

Noyce, who put a good deal of thought and emotion into directing The Quiet American (2002), Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) and, to a lesser extent, Catch a Fire (2006), has with his new film reminded us of his inglorious past as the creator of such politically noxious works as Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), both based on right-wing potboilers by Tom Clancy.

Unhappily, Noyce’s comments about his recent dilemmas and difficulties say a good deal about the ideological climate within which filmmakers have worked in recent decades and the ideas they have accumulated. Many of the latter have to do with the importance of commercial success as the only standard by which to measure a career.

Health care privatization and crackpot science

It appears that Brad Wall wants his health care legacy to consist of the "privatization by stealth" and funding crackpot science in hopes of making a name for himself.  - NYC

Saskatchewan still plans to fund trials for controversial multiple sclerosis treatment

By Tim Switzer, Leader-Post
Saskatchewan Health Minister Don McMorris said the provincial government still plans to fund clinical trials for a controversial Multiple Sclerosis treatment despite the idea getting a thumbs down from the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

During a joint news conference with the MS Society of Canada in Ottawa on Tuesday, CIHR president Alain Beaudet said the organization will not recommend to the federal government that Canadawide clinical trials for the MS liberation treatment take place because of a lack of evidence to support its effectiveness.

"Given lack of scientific basis, it is not scientifically advisable or ethically acceptable to conduct clinical trials at this time," said Beaudet. He said the decision to hold off on trials until more evidence is found was unanimous among everyone who took part in a meeting between the CIHR and MS Society, including internationally recognized researchers and scientists of MS.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Health Care Privatization

Brad Wall continues his privatization by stealth.

Shades of Dr. Strangelove: How NATO’s Ever Expanding Reach Threatens Global Security

By Antony C. Black
Global Research, August 30, 2010

Around the globe an ominous build-up of military might is taking place, and it is doing so almost entirely beneath the radar of public attention.

Since 2005 a large scale stockpiling and deployment of advanced weapons systems has been effected throughout the territories and seas surrounding Russia, China, and Iran.

Sculptured Landscapes

 By Ken Dalgado

Painting from Ken Dalgado's Sculptured Lanscapes
Ken Dalgado's exhibit Sculpted Landscapes focused on and chronicles the now decaying and vanishing farm buildings and grain elevators that once dotted the flat Saskatchewan prairies.

These monuments stand - barely- not only as a fading symbol of the toil and bond pioneers once had with the land but also as a strong symbol of our own fleeting and fragile place in the world. Like the rugged land and swirling skies these canvases are painted with an ultra thick paint application, creating a seductive tactile texture of swirling furrows and ridges - in essence a landscape within a landscape.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Workers' Festival: A History of Labour Day in Canada

For most Canadians today, Labour Day is the last gasp of summer fun: the final long weekend before returning to the everyday routine of work or school. But over its century-long history, there was much more to the September holiday than just having a day off.

In The Workers' Festival, Craig Heron and Steve Penfold examine the complicated history of Labour Day from its origins as a spectacle of skilled workers in the 1880s through its declaration as a national statutory holiday in 1894 to its reinvention through the twentieth century.

The holiday's inventors hoped to blend labour solidarity, community celebration, and increased leisure time by organizing parades, picnics, speeches, and other forms of respectable leisure. As the holiday has evolved, so too have the rituals, with trade unionists embracing new forms of parading, negotiating, and bargaining, and other social groups re-shaping it and making it their own. Heron and Penfold also examine how Labour Day's monopoly as the workers' holiday has been challenged since its founding, with alternative festivals arising such as May Day and International Women's Day.

Labour Day Parade, Regina 1913
The Workers' Festival ranges widely into many key themes of labour history - union politics and rivalries, radical movements, religion (Catholic and Protestant), race and gender, and consumerism/leisure - as well as cultural history - public celebration/urban procession, urban space and communication, and popular culture. From St. John's to Victoria, the authors follow the century-long development of the holiday in all its varied forms.

Craig Heron is a professor in the Department of History at York University.
Steve Penfold is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Toronto.

Introduction: The Making of Labour's Day
Conclusion: The Legacy of Labour's Day

'... Heron and Penfold have laid invaluable and long-overdue groundwork in a field of study that to date has been remarkably poorly documented.'
Jan Ravensbergen, The Montreal Gazette

Purchase book HERE.

Don’t Know Much About Canpotex

By Erin Weir
Progressive Economics Forum

A key issue arising from the proposed potash takeover is BHP Billiton’s musing about leaving Canpotex, the agency that has long marketed Canadian potash offshore. (Growing up near the railroad tracks in Regina, Canpotex train cars were a familiar sight.)

Perhaps BHP believes that it alone has sufficient clout to manage supply and negotiate overseas prices without Canpotex. But other Saskatchewan potash mines for which BHP is not bidding also rely on Canpotex.

Perhaps BHP believes that it could generate more profit by exporting a significantly larger quantity of potash, without significantly depressing the price. If so, the implication is that Potash Corp management has misjudged the demand curve.

Or maybe BHP plans to flood the offshore market with cheap potash and accept lower profits in the short term. If BHP could thereby put competitors (in Saskatchewan or elsewhere) out of business, it might achieve even more pricing power and greater profits in the long term.

Saskatchewan political leaders, the companies currently mining potash in Canada, and their employees have raised concerns about these possibilities. So, BHP has been backpedalling on the prospect of withdrawing from Canpotex. This backpedalling took an hilarious turn in Wednesday’s Globe and Mail:

Graham Kerr, president of BHP’s potash operations, said if the company’s bid is successful it will study the Canpotex agreement more closely. “I am not close enough to the insights of how Canpotex operates to say if it’s a good, bad or indifferent organization.”

Does Kerr actually expect anyone to believe that BHP bid US$39 billion for Potash Corp without studying Canpotex first? As BHP’s potash president, has he really not formulated any views on Canpotex?

Anyway, if BHP is looking to hire a potash president who has some sense of how Canpotex operates, just e-mail the job posting to: “info@progressive-economics.ca”.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Two white people rallies in Washington

Washington, August 1925

Washington, August 2010

The CCF and the CCL in Saskatchewan: 1944-56


For those interested in the early history of the relationship of the CCF government of Tommy Douglas and the Canadian Congress of Labour, print and read this manuscript by Robert A. Lindsay (1987).

Download this large PDF here.

Photo: Bill Davies at CCL meeting, 1949

The rising trend against the war on drugs

Globe and Mail Editorial

Toronto this week became the first city in the world to formally endorse the Vienna Declaration that states that war-on-drugs-style prohibitions are a costly failure, denounces the “severe negative consequences” of such policies both in terms of public health and crime rates, and urges a shift in emphasis to regulation and harm reduction.

It would be easy to dismiss the city council’s decision as a meaningless gesture by local politicians working well out of their depth, except that the push to decriminalize, not only marijuana, but hard drugs like cocaine and heroin as well, is a rising international phenomenon, being driven by serious and credible sources, not by local politicians or stoner websites.

Beck, Palin, and the Desescration of History

By Norman Markowitz
Political Affairs

There is a very old saying, attributed to Voltaire, that "history is a pack of tricks played on the dead." That should be applied directly to the "rally" being held in Washington on the 47th anniversary of the most significant rally ever held in the nation's capital---the 1963 March on Washington.

The March on Washington was not about religion, although Martin Luther King was a Christian minister who used Christian religious themes to advance progressive humanist values and policies--values and policies which were and are far closer to socialism than to capitalism.

The purpose of the 1963 March on Washington was to mobilize and publicize support for comprehensive Civil Right legislation, for the most important Civil Rights legislation to be passed in the 20th century.

Fifty Fantasy & Science Fiction Works That Socialists Should Read

By China Miéville
Fantastic Metropolis

This is not a list of the “best” fantasy or SF. There are huge numbers of superb works not on the list. Those below are chosen not just because of their quality—which though mostly good, is variable—but because the politics they embed (deliberately or not) are of particular interest to socialists.

Of course, other works—by the same or other writers—could have been chosen: disagreement and alternative suggestions are welcomed. I change my own mind hour to hour on this anyway.

Read the list here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Retro Look at Potash Privatization

Jack Warnock and Shauna Checkley
Briarpatch magazine
December 1989/January 1990

Canada's homegrown hero vs BHP

There is a reason why capitalists in Saskatchewan need state intervention in a resource-oriented province like Saksatchewan. Although beholden to foreign capital, they like to keep some crumbs for themselves. Allan Blakeney, and even Grant Devine, understood this well. Others will admit it, but only in private. For an analysis of the finacial impact of privatization, see Erin Weir's letter to the LP.- NYC.

Bernard Simon
Financial Times

Jim Sereda and Paul Hill are successful Saskatchewan businessmen who own shares in PotashCorp.

Yet the two take very different views of the unfolding battle for control of the big Canadian potash producer that was sparked by last week’s $US39 billion hostile bid from Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton.

“In all the doom and gloom of the past few years, it’s nice to see that we’re the centre of attention for a while,” says Sereda, who owns two pharmacies in Lanigan and Nokomis, towns in central Saskatchewan province whose economies are dominated by a nearby PotashCorp mine.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Potash takeover bad for workers, bad for Saskatchewan, bad for Canada

Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

OTTAWA –A foreign takeover of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan would threaten potash mineworkers and their communities across the country, says the president of the union representing about 3,000 potash workers, including 800 miners, production and construction workers at PCS.

“As a branch plant of multinational giant such as BPH, all rules for civilized negotiations to keep jobs and investment in Canada would be off the table,” says Communications, Energy and Paperworkers President Dave Coles.

“Right now CEP and PCS have agreements in place that promote local hiring and put the people of Saskatchewan first. But, speaking from experience, it’s very difficult to extract that commitment from a company headquartered in a different hemisphere.”

Coles says there is also growing concern that a foreign owner would destroy the work of Canpotex, which markets and exports Canadian potash for the benefit of Canada. “It’s a slippery slope toward a monopoly, says Coles, and all Canadian potash mining companies would be vulnerable.”

“Our manufacturing base is taking another hit,” he adds, “and once again it begs the question: ‘who is in control of Canadian resources’”? When it comes to the oil industry, our raw bitumen is being shipped to the US for value-added processing. In forestry, we have raw logs going to China from BC.

Given its track record, Coles holds out little hope that the Harper government will step in to stop any takeover. He notes that the Investment Canada Act outlaws foreign takeovers that do not deliver a “net benefit” to Canada. Since the Act came into force in 1985, only one takeover has been rejected, while 13,500 have gone ahead.

“This is one more iconic Canadian industry on the chopping block under Mr. Harper’s watch.

“Canadians deserve public hearings and full public disclosure of the government’s reasons for accepting or rejecting any takeover bid. That will come in handy at election time!”

Click here to read the Council of Canadians release.

Burn, Baby, Burn

Climate Change Sceptics on the Left

The September/October issue of Canadian Dimension focuses on ecosocialism. This is an article from the is issue of CD. Issue available here.

Andrea Levy
Candian Dimension

Although the scientific community has never been more united in its conviction that climate change is well on the way to rendering planet Earth a vastly less hospitable place for most species including our own, doubt about the gravity of the problem is, paradoxically, on the rise. Recent polls in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada reveal that fewer people take the threat of climate change seriously than was true five years ago.

One likely reason is the insidious effect of the ongoing campaign — largely orchestrated and funded by the fossil fuel industry and drawing support from a cast of pundits and politicians such as right-wing columnist George Will, Lord Nigel Lawson, Czech President Václav Klaus among others — to sow doubt about the very existence of the phenomenon or at least about the contribution of human activity to it, and minimize the deleterious effects forecast by a host of prominent scientists.

The contrarians don’t all line up with the forces of reaction, however.

On class structure and income inequality

Lenin's Tomb

In 1979, Erik Olin Wright produced a book on the relation between class and income inequality with the aim of persuading social scientists working in the field of inequality to take marxist ideas seriously. He was, to put it mildly, in the wrong place at the wrong time. But his procedure was to rigorously conceptualise class as an antagonistic relationship centred on exploitation, rather than a system of gradations, or a competitive system based on the technical division of labour, market position, or authority relations.

Having done this, he proceeded to show that with this understanding of class divisions in mind, it was possible to provide a powerful explanatory framework for understanding how income inequalities are perpetuated. I don't know whether much work is really being done on this subject these days, but here's one recent sociological attempt to situation inequalities in terms of production, which should be the basis of further research:

"These growing inequalities are clearly related to changes in employment relations. The work of entrepreneurs, managers and a top elite of professionals and technical experts has been considered increasingly worthy of high economic rewards, while rank and file workers have been subjected to pay restraints and wage cuts. Gosling et al. (1996) report on the widening gap between skilled and unskilled workers, along with increasing disparities within skill categories. Generally the picture is one of polarization between the well qualified and unqualified; between 1997 and 1993, the median wages of those with higher education rose by one third, while for those who left school by sixteen the figure was 10 per cent.

"Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, chief executives and directors received massive pay rises, along with huge bonuses and stakes of shareholdings in their companies; for example, in 1998 Sir Richard Sykes of Glaxo Wellcome had a 53 percent increase to bring his salary to £1.7 million, sir Geoff Mulcahy of Woolworths and B&Q a rise of 39 per cent to reach £1.5 million. In America Rifkin (1995) reports that the 4 per cent of what he terms the ‘knowledge elite’ earn as much as the bottom 51 per cent of wage earners: their gains were made at the expense of the mass of employees, who faced lower pay levels, loss of jobs and declining state benefits: ‘While millions of urban and rural poor languish in poverty, and an increasing number of suburban middle-income wage-earners feel the bite of re-engineering … a small elite of American knowledge workers, entrepreneurs and corporate managers reap the benefits of the new high-tech global economy’ (p. 180). The prosperity of the super-rich is shown in the fact reported by Kirby (1999a) that the ten richest men in the world earn more than the total wealth of the forty-eight poorest countries in the world, whose populations total some 560 million people. The UN estimates that $40 billion would be needed to achieve basic education and health care for everybody in the world, along with adequate food, water supplies and sanitation: $40 billion is less than 4 per cent of the combined wealth of the world’s 225 richest people."

— Harriet Bradley et al, Myths at Work, Polity, 2000, pp. 138-9

For critics of Islam,'sharia' becomes shorthand for extremism

By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer

Protesters of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero waved signs there Sunday with a single word: sharia.

Their reference to Islam's guiding principles has become a rallying cry for those critical of Islam, who use the word to conjure images of public stonings and other extreme forms of punishment in countries such as Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan and argue that those tenets are somehow gaining a foothold in the United States.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

‘Waiting for Lefty’ Reflects Today’s Struggles for Economic Justice

Waiting for Lefty Resurrected!
Uprising Radio

In the play Waiting for Lefty, the audience is dropped into a clandestine meeting of New York City taxi drivers as they debate whether to walk off the job and strike. Written by Clifford Odets in 1935, the one-act play was inspired by the real-life strike of 2000 New York taxi drivers in 1934.

With minimal props and set design, the compelling characters and circumstances create a palpable tension between hope and reality. Each individual has been spurred to consider the radical act of striking by personal struggles that are revealed in a series of vignettes. Odets positions the taxi drivers as an exploited workforce brought to the boiling point in a story that is unabashedly critical of capitalism. Sixty five years after it was first performed Waiting For Lefty remains relevant today.

Theater West in North Hollywood presents a Chestnuts production of Waiting for Lefty, opening on Labor Day, September 3rd, and running through October 10th. Theater West was established in 1962, and operates as a non-profit artistic cooperative. Its productions have won national awards including the Tony and Obie, and it has received international acclaim and honors. The Chestnuts program was created in 2005 to produce time honored classic and contemporary works. Chestnuts producing director is Charlie Mount, who joins us in studio today along with Paul Gunning and Kristin Wiegand, two cast members of Waiting for Lefty.

Listen to this segment

The entire program

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Reaction to the Tamil boat: curious comparisons

By Seth Klein

If the 492 Tamil asylum-seekers who recently arrived by boat on BC’s shores are “queue-jumpers”, then I guess my parents were too. See, they came as Vietnam War draft dodgers from the US in 1967. Like a couple of the Tamil women just arrived, my mom was pregnant with me. My parents did not seek advance permission from the Canadian government to immigrate. They did not fill out any paperwork before arriving. And they could no more seek permission to leave from their home government than these Tamils could, for what they were doing was, as far as the US was concerned, illegal and would result in my father’s arrest.

Of course that’s the thing about being an asylum-seeker –– you don’t get into a queue. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Hell, my folks didn’t even know Montreal (where they landed) was a predominantly French-speaking city.

Read more and comments here.

Hollywood Propaganda

New Left Project talks to Matthew Alford, author of “Reel Power: Hollywood Cinema and American Supremacy”, about the myth of liberal Hollywood and the power of entertainment as propaganda.

Criticism of the media (not just the movie industry) is often seen as simply a matter of political perspective - i.e. those on the left criticise the media for being too right and those on the right criticise it for being too left. Whose interests (if any) would you say Hollywood’s politicisation really serves?

Hollywood presents perspectives from both left and right but always within a very narrow spectrum. What are the limits? With regard to films about American power overseas, there is a strong taboo on showing US foreign policy as being driven by corporate/ great power interests or from the perspective of the indigenous population. The default cinematic position is that US violence or its threat of violence (through military intervention, special ops, forceful interrogations, etc) is benign and indeed the best solution to the world’s problems.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Message from the CEO of Canada INC to the shareholders and clientele.

At Canada INC, YOUR profits and security against the ugly plebes are JOB ONE!

Next Up! Saskatchewan

Applications are now being accepted for the first year of Next Up Saskatchewan: A Leadership: A Program for Young People Committed to Social and Environmental Justice.

The application process is now underway for a new cohort of Next Up participants. This is an amazing, intensive and transformative program for young social change activists between the ages of 18 and 32. This year we're excited to announce that the program will operate in three provinces: Next Up BC in Vancouver, Next Up Alberta in Edmonton, and Next Up Saskatchewan in Saskatoon - so please forward this call to your friends and colleagues in those regions. 

In each province, 13 young people will be selected who have some experience with social and environmental organizing but are ready to take their leadership to another level. Participants will develop life-long relationships, explore different leadership styles, meet some of the province's leading change-makers, learn new leadership and organizing skills, and be exposed to current and topical social justice issues and progressive governance.

The application deadline for Next Up SK is Tuesday, Sept 14 (deadlines vary for each province). The program runs between October 2010 and early May 2011.

Please forward this call far and wide -- to individuals, organizations, institutions and your progressive networks. Thank you in advance for helping us find the fabulous young leaders for Next Up 2010/11 -- you'll be thankful you did years from now!

Application forms and more information can be found at: http://www.nextup.ca./

Next Up is a project of genius (the global youth education network society), in partnership with the Columbia Institute Centre for Civic Governance, The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Parkland Institute, and several Saskatchewan organizations and unions.
Tracey Mitchell, Coordinator, Next Up Saskatchewan
Phone: 306-244-4955
Email: sask@nextup.ca
Web: http://www.nextup.ca/

‘Dancing with Dynamite’: The Future of Latin America’s Leftist Movements

By Kari Lydersen

This article was originally published on Working In These Times, at InTheseTimes.com/working. It is permanently archived at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/6342/

What happens after you win?

That is, as fearless grassroots social movements have brought leftist, pro-worker parties to power in one after another Latin American country during the past decade, how do these movements maintain true democracy and commitment to the rights of the marginalized once faced with the challenge of a neoliberal global economy?

After the wave of worker factory takeovers following its economic collapse a decade ago, such questions played out on smaller scales in Argentina. Taking cooperative control of the factories was only the first step; the workers had to actually run them competitively in a capitalist economy. Similarly, after movements of union members, indigenous activists and other previously marginalized people bring leaders like Bolivian Evo Morales and Venezuelan Hugo Chavez to power, how do they make sure their struggles aren't declawed and co-opted by the new government?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The dark side of nitrogen 11

By Stephanie Ogburn

Few people spare a thought for nitrogen. But with every bite we take -- of an apple, a chicken leg, a leaf of spinach -- we are consuming nitrogen. Plants, including food crops, can't thrive without a ready supply of available nitrogen in the soil.

The amount of food a farmer could grow was once limited by his or her ability to supplement soil nitrogen, either by planting cover crops, applying manure, or moving on to a new, more fertile field. Then, about 100 years ago, a technical innovation enabled us to produce a cheap synthetic form of nitrogen, and voila! Agriculture's nitrogen limitation problem was solved. The age of industrial nitrogen fertilizers had begun.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Resource wars: the global crisis behind BHP Billiton's bid for Potash Corp

The battle for the fertiliser giant points to a near future in which world food supplies may need to rise by 70%

Richard Wachman, The Observer,

BHP Billiton's £28bn hostile bid for Canada's Potash Corporation sets the scene for one of mining's biggest takeover battles. But this is more than a clash between multinationals intent on self-aggrandisement.

Certainly, the usual arguments are wheeled out by the predator about diversification, synergies and the prospect of fatter profits, while the target company complains about the offer price being pitched too low.

Spirit of the Crowsnest: The story of union in the coal towns of the Crowsnest Pass

Alberta Federation of Labour

The first booklet in the Project 2012 series is the “Spirit of the Crowsnest”. It tells the stories of miners and their families in the Crowsnest Pass.

The miners of the Pass were crucial to the birth and growth of the Alberta labour movement. Miners were faced with conditions of hardship and economic insecurity, which produced radical responses. Their struggles resulted in some of the most fundamental gains for Alberta labour, including workers’ compensation and a basic union right to be recognized in the workplace.

Feel free to download the booklet and pass on the web address so that others can learn about the fascinating history of the Crowsnest Pass.  
Download here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Framing For Change: How We Tell Our Story Matters

How we tell the story of a better world matters—and the best way is to live the alternatives we advocate.

By Doyle Canning, Patrick Reinsborough
Cross posted from Yes! Magazine

These days, the big issues of our time are digested and disseminated by cable news, internet blogs, and tweets—and repeated by everyday people in our common conversations. But the choices about how that digestion happens—about how big stories are packaged into little sound-bytes that people spread—are strategic decisions loaded with political power. Consider:

Gulf Oil Spill vs. BP’s Blowout Disaster
Iraq Draw Down vs. Ongoing Occupation
Illegal Immigrants vs. Migrant Workers’ Rights
Ground Zero Mosque vs. Religious Freedom

Move on!

A short song by the great Ewan MacColl.

I dedicate this to the Roma. Persecuted throughout the 20th century, they ended up in Hitler's death camps. Now they are the target of Harper, Sarkozy and the rest of the racist right.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Woodrow Lloyd vs Ross Thatcher 1964

Woodrow Lloyd was a principled leader of the Saskatchewan CCF/NDP and had brought the Saskatchewan medicare crisis to a successful conclusion.

Read how and why Roy Romanow and the right-wing of the NDP axed Lloyd here.

Entering a Death Spiral?

Tensions Rise in Greece as Austerity Measures Backfire

By Corinna Jessen in Athens
Spiegel Online

The austerity measures that were supposed to fix Greece's problems are dragging down the country's economy. Stores are closing, tax revenues are falling and unemployment has hit an unbelievable 70 percent in some places. Frustrated workers are threatening to strike back.

The feast of the Assumption of Mary on Aug. 15 is the high point of summer in the Greek Orthodox world. Here in one of the country's many churches, believers pray to the Virgin for mercy, with many of them falling to their knees.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rocking the Boat: A Brief History of Anti-Migrant Hysteria in Canada

No One is Illegal

They’re at it again. In November, 76 Tamil refugees escaped Sri Lanka on a rusty freighter. They arrived in Victoria, where they were met by RCMP and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials, who promptly jailed them for three months on allegations of terrorism. It would be fully half a year before the CBSA would admit that it had never had any evidence. By then, however, it was too late: anti-Tamil and anti-refugee hysteria had spread like wildfire.

Now, mere weeks after that most tepid of mea culpas from the CBSA, the hysteria greeting the Tamil MV Sun Sea passengers is worse.
Read more here.

Why the world wants Saskatchewan's Potash Corp.

If the Grant Devine's Conservatives had not privatized the PCS, this valuable resource, assets and profits, would belong to the people of Saskatchewan. It would not be up for sale to foreign interests. - NYC.

By Don Pittis
CBC News

By modern thinking, Canada's Potash Corp, now a corporate star in the midst of a front-page takeover bid, has an illicit origin.

Indeed, according to current business wisdom, Potash Corp. should not have succeeded. But now, global mining giant BHP Billiton thinks it's worth $40 billion. Others believe it is worth much more.

Still, the dirty secret here is that this huge corporate asset began its life as a twinkle in the eye of a socialist politician, Allan Blakeney. A Rhodes scholar and an ordinary guy, Blakeney was the man who succeeded Tommy Douglas - the founder of universal health care - as premier of Saskatchewan.

Yes, the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, was, gasp, a government owned and created company.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aboriginal groups looking at nuclear waste storage

Aboriginal organizations and communities have generally resisted the Nuclear industry's bribes to dump nuclear waste in their communties. It is a form of economic racism to take advantage of poverty and unemployment to pursue these dump sites. See also Native communities refuse nuclear waste, Nuclear Waste and Nuclear Waste Disposal Action Alert and Backgrounder - NYC

CBC News

Some aboriginal communities in northern Saskatchewan are interested in the possibility of storing nuclear waste — something the province hasn't made its mind up about yet.

Last week, representatives from the Métis village of Pinehouse took a trip to Toronto to visit the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

Canada's used nuclear fuel is stored at reactor sites, but the organization is looking for a community to host a national storage facility.

The plan calls for used nuclear fuel to be put deep underground in stable rock formations. Jamie Robinson, a spokesman for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, says "a few" Metis towns and First Nations in Saskatchewan have heard presentations.

To be selected, a village or First Nation's council would have to pass a resolution, saying it was interested. It would also need a parcel of land for the site to be built on.

Saskatchewan's aboriginal communities are in the very first stages of being placed on the eligibility list, so it wouldn't be fair to say which ones have been talked to, he said.

"They really do this in confidence, because in a lot of cases it's people that haven't talked to their communities," he said.

The Saskatchewan government's position is that it reserves decisions on supporting Saskatchewan communities interested in hosting nuclear waste management facilities until such proposals are well into the regulatory process.

It's a wait and see approach, Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd said.

"We haven't had any formal proposals come forward on this," he said. "When they do, we would be prepared to evaluate them."

So far, the organization has only one formal application to host a nuclear waste storage site, from northern Ontario.

Woody Guthrie would be pleased

Original by Woody Guthrie here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Karl Polanyi provides `a vital intellectual resource' for ecosocialists

Karl Polanyi: The Limits of the Market
By Gareth Dale
Polity Press, 2010
Order here

Review by Derek Wall
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To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment, indeed, even of the amount and use of purchasing power, would result in the demolition of society. For the alleged commodity "labor power" cannot be shoved about, used indiscriminately, or even left unused, without affecting also the human individual who happens to be the bearer of this peculiar commodity. In disposing of a man's labor power the system would, incidentally, dispose of the physical, psychological, and moral entity "man" attached to that tag. Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime, and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighborhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed -- from Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation (1944)

Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation is generally acclaimed as being among the most influential works of economic history in the twentieth century, and remains as vital in the current historical conjuncture as it was in his own. In its critique of nineteenth-century "market fundamentalism" it reads as a warning to our own neoliberal age, and is widely touted as a prophetic guidebook for those who aspire to understand the causes and dynamics of global economic turbulence at the end of the 2000s -- from Gareth Dale's Karl Polanyi: The Limits of the Market, Polity Press (2010)

August 14, 2010 -- British governments since the mid-1970s have advanced an agenda of marketisation. In 1976 the International Monetary Funded (IMF) demanded that the British government slash public spending and liberalise the economy in return for financial help. This led to deep divisions between the Labour government and the trade union movement. The government called for pay restraint to satisfy the IMF, unions went on strike during the "winter of discontent". The 1979 general election saw the victory of the Conservative Party's Margaret Thatcher, a right-wing populist, who over three terms of government mounted a full-scale attack on the unions and privatised much of the economy. With some variation the succeeding Conservative government under John Major and "New Labour" governments under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown continued the neoliberal trend.