Sunday, July 31, 2011

Robert Burns: Not In My Name

3:AM Magazine
July 16, 2011

In advance of his Edinburgh Festival show Robert Burns: Not In My Name, Darran Anderson interviews Kevin Williamson.

3:AM: Aside from exploring the poet’s life and works, Robert Burns: Not In My Name seems designed to counter the myths that have grown up around Burns (the noble savage/ploughman poet, the drink-sodden ladies-man, the embalmed heritage figure), to reveal a much more complex figure. Was that your intention and what prompted the project?

Kevin Williamson: Like many Scots I love Robert Burns but I can’t quite relate to the popular image of him. The couthy tourist Burns that has been packaged and sold for over two centuries, the one you describe, is well enough known, but essentially it’s a false construct. Wrapping Burns up in tartan and slapping his face on tea towels and shortbread tins, to my mind, is akin to the Irish dressing James Connolly in a wee green leprechaun suit and dangling him from a key fob. It’s more than a little insulting. The Burns that I love, and have chosen to present in this show, was a bit more complex and troublesome than the popular mythology suggests.

Farmageddon - Movie Trailer

Americans’ right to access fresh, healthy foods of their choice is under attack. Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why.

Farmageddon - Movie Trailer from Kristin Canty on Vimeo.

Leaked contract reveals BP’s control of Iraqi oil

By Ed
New Left Project
31 July 2011

A report published today uses leaked documents to shows how BP secretly renegotiated it’s Iraqi oil contract, and how Iraqis will pay the price. Here is the press release for the report, published by PLATFORM.

A leaked contract between BP and the Iraqi government has revealed the extent to which the company has gained control over Iraq’s oil. The 20-year contract for the Rumaila field near Basra published today by oil industry watchdog

PLATFORM, commits future Iraqi governments to paying BP whether or not it extracts oil, irrespective of OPEC quotas and of the state of Iraqi pipeline and export infrastructure.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Toward a New Labour Politics

Review of David Camfield, Canadian Labour in Crisis: Reinventing the Workers' Movement
(Winnipeg: Fernwood, 2011)

By Maryann Abbs
New Socialist Webzine
July 29, 2011

As I write this review, postal workers and community allies in Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg are occupying Conservative Party MP offices to protest back-to-work legislation tabled by the Harper government. I didn't learn about the occupation and the call for support from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) website, or from the local labour council, but through networks of grassroots labour and community activists.

This exemplifies some of the issues raised in David Camfield's new book on the Canadian labour movement. The book is critical of labour's lack of internal democracy, failure to support extra-parliamentary action, and inability or lack of interest in mobilizing workers. There are also some hopeful examples in the book, mirrored by CUPW occupation -- actions where worker and community activists have collaborated outside of union hierarchies.

We came, we saw, we destroyed, we forgot

The Anti-Empire Report 
By William Blum
July 29, 2011 
An updated summary of the charming record of US foreign policy. Since the end of the Second World War, the United States of America has …

Attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, most of which were democratically-elected.[1]

  1. Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.[2]
  2. Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.[3]
  3. Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.[4]
  4. Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.[5]

The Harvest - Trailer

Shine Global

THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA is the story of the children who work 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week to pick the food that we eat. These children are not toiling in the fields in some far away land. They are working here, in our back yard, in America.

Every year more than 400,000 migrant child farmworkers in the US journey from their homes traveling from the scorching sun of the Texas onion fields to the winter snows of the Michigan apple orchards, from the heat of the Florida tomato fields to the damp cherry trees in Oregon. These children are American citizens. All are working to help their families survive while sacrificing the birthright of childhood: play; stability; school. The film profiles three of them as they work through the 2009-10 harvests.

Whose families will be "lucky" enough to get work? Which families will be separated? Which will get sick or injured? Will there be enough work to sustain them? Will any manage to keep their dreams alive? The film follows these children as they follow the crops they harvest, their lives governed by climate, demand, trade, and the greater economy.

The verite footage of the children and their year of toil is augmented by the children having the chance to speak for themselves about their lives. THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA boasts unparalleled access to life on these farms across the nation and gives us the opportunity to connect with these children who live these unthinkable lives to feed us, and more importantly to them, to feed their families and themselves.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Privatization by stealth

Click on image below for a larger view.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Antonio Gramsci: Book Reviews

Reviewed by Adam Hilton
York University
Socialist Studies / Études socialistes 7(1/2) Spring/Fall 2011

The fortunes of Antonio Gramsci as a Marxist thinker and Communist Party leader have been so curious it is worth foregrounding their recent past within academic and intellectual circles.1 Particularly in the English-speaking world, Gramsci’s popularity has undoubtedly only increased since the fall of the Soviet bloc, the advance of neoliberalism and the deeper disorganization of the Left. 

Such a phenomenon leaves us asking why it is that this Marxist revolutionary has been spared the same fate as Marx and Engels, who either have continued to be held in disrepute or, worse, been relegated to irrelevance. In this case, however, the exception proves the rule. The growth of the “Gramsci industry” in the past few decades has been due mainly to the fact that he is not typically read as a Marxist and a Communist.

Indeed, as a “theorist of the superstructures” Gramsci is frequently promoted as an alternative to the crude economism of the Marxist tradition. In part due to the earlier instrumentalizations by the Italian Communist Party’s (PCI) official postwar “Gramscianism,” as well as the later academic interpretation of Gramsci’s perspective as rooted in the trenches of a non-political “civil society,” the Italian Communist thinker ultimately found a warmer reception in cultural studies than he did in either political science or sociology.

Peter D. Thomas’s fresh reassessment of the Prison Notebooks and the late Antonio A. Santucci’s recently translated biography serve as important correctives to this non-political, “cultural studies” Gramsci.

Read these reviews HERE.

Prairie land up for grabs?

Profs in the City

'The "Land Grab" Comes Home: New Forms of Corporate Investment in Prairie Agriculture', by Andre Magnan (Sociology, UofR)

Tuesday August 9, 12:15 pm - 12:45 pm
Place: Neutral Ground Contemporary Art Forum 
1856 Scarth St., Regina, on the second floor

Rural sociologists have long puzzled over the fate of the 'family farm' in advanced, capitalist economies. Magnan explains that agriculture is one of the few economic sectors still mostly made up of small, independent economic actors - family farmers.

Traditionally, corporate interests have shied away from directly investing in food production because of the inherent risks of farming. What then, asks Magnan, explains the recent surge in corporate investment in prairie farmland and farm production? He will explore this issue by highlighting the case of One Earth Farms, a corporate mega-farm, and new prairie farmland investment trusts.

Workers’ Assemblies: A Way to Regroup the Left?

New Left Project
July 28, 2011

Herman Rosenfeld is a member of the Canadian Socialist Project and the General Toronto Workers’ Assembly, a new initiative aiming to reinvigorate working class and radical politics in the city. He spoke to Tom Denning about the methods and activities of GTWA and the challenges it faces. This interview is co-published with The Commune.

Who initiated the GTWA, and with what purpose? How does it work now, and what does it do?

The GTWA was initiated by the Labour Committee of a group called the Socialist Project, based in Toronto. The idea of an Assembly was roughly based on some of the ideas floated - and experimented with - by Bill Fletcher Jr and others in the US. Creating a new and different kind of working class organizational form was seen as a way to get beyond some of the limitations of trade unions, which have been so locked into defending their members’ particular concerns; contributing to the need for a fightback in the face of the crisis; helping to bring together the socialist and anti-capitalist left; and working to create a new political space, to the left of social democracy.

Building a Renewable Energy Society in Saskatchewan: Report

Saskatchewan Office
July 28, 2011

Regina — With the release of the final report in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Saskatchewan series “Transforming Saskatchewan’s Electrical Future,” former Saskatchewan Cabinet Minister Peter Prebble outlines the public policies that will be required to truly transform Saskatchewan into a renewable energy leader.

 "The Public Policies Needed to Build a Renewable Energy Society in Saskatchewan" observes that our province is blessed with a remarkable array of wind, solar, small-scale hydro and biomass resources for our population size. The time has come to fully utilize these resources to build a renewable energy economy. Not only could this be an important source of job creation and community based economic development, but it could also be part of Saskatchewan’s larger plan to reduce its greenhouse gas pollution, something every jurisdiction on Earth must do if dangerous climate change is to be avoided.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Postapocalypofic Dominates Year's Best SF

The Little Professor
July 27, 2011

Gardner Dozois' Year's Best anthologies have long shown predilections for postapocalyptofic, so it's no shock that there's a fair amount of that on display in the thirty-three stories and novellas collected here. While postapocalyptofic dominates the anthology, the stories also cluster recognizably around a number of themes and modes, ranging from what we might call the disenchantment of exploration to, on a more upbeat note, children after the apocalypse.

Several of the stories reflect on SF itself, either by reflecting on genre conventions or paying homage to other authors. Allen M. Steele's "The Emperor of Mars," for example, features a young man who becomes temporarily insane after he experiences a wrenching personal tragedy while working on Mars; he manages to cure himself by constructing a personal world out of classic SF texts, the ones animated by "romanticism" rather than "realism" (51). 

The biggest threat to Western values

Multiculturalism does not pose a significant danger to Western values - but neoliberalism does.
27 Jul 2011
Samuel Huntington
The paranoid style in politics often imagines unlikely alliances that coalesce into an overwhelming threat that must be countered by all necessary means.

In Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington conjured an amalgamated East - an alliance between "Confucian" and "Islamic" powers - that would challenge the West for world dominance. Many jihadis fear the Crusader alliance between Jews and Christians. They forget that until recently, historically speaking, populations professing the latter were the chief persecutors of the former.

Now Anders Breivik has invoked the improbable axis of Marxism, multiculturalism and Islamism, together colonising Europe. As he sees multiculturalism as essentially a Jewish plot, Breivik has managed to wrap up the new and old fascist bogies in one conspiracy: communists, Jews and Muslims.

The New Atheists, Political Narratives, and the Betrayal of the Enlightenment

The Real Delusion: Part 1

By Bo Winegard and Ben Winegard
Dissident Voice
July 27th, 2011

The New Atheists and the real faith

Since 2001, a group of scholars and intellectuals (for simplicity, and in line with current labels, we will call them the “New Atheists”) have become college campus celebrities for assailing the “irrationalism” of religious belief; some, like Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins, already possessed laudable resumes, and some, like Sam Harris,4 rose in fame primarily because of their passionate pleas against faith in the immediate post 9-11 milieu. Although these thinkers differ in their analyses, their main theme is similar: religious faith is irrational and should eventually be discarded like a child’s toy by mature citizens in a modern, secular era...

"the church is no longer an inordinately powerful institution and religion, even among believers, is not the most potent mythology. The most potent mythology is neoliberal nationalism and the most powerful institution is the corporation."

Read this article HERE.

Group begins trek to legislature

By Jeanette Stewart
The StarPhoenix
July 27, 2011

Seven semi-truckloads of nuclear waste per day, every day for 20 years, trucked into Saskatchewan's north en route to a storage facility deep underground - that's the scenario a group of people walking 800 kilometres from Pinehouse Lake to the legislature in Regina say they are trying to prevent.

The walkers will leave Pinehouse Lake this morning and plan to arrive in Regina Aug. 16.

The nuclear industry is searching for a permanent home for the waste accumulated since Canada's nuclear power program began in the mid-1970s. The used fuel is stored at the reactor sites in an "interim" storage situation. Reactors in Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec have created about two million used fuel bundles, each the size of a fireplace log.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Norway Rose March

The Myth of Expansionary Austerity

By Andrew Jackson
Progressive Economics Forum
July 26th, 2011

As the US and Europe turn from stimulus to fiscal austerity, claims are heard that spending cuts actually stimulate economic growth. That is the argument heard, not just from the Republicans in the US Congress, but also from the Obama Administration who have pretty much stopped listening to even mainstream macro-economists. And it is the argument of European finance ministers and the European Central Bank who think that a sharp dose of fiscal austerity across the Eurozone need not imperil economic recovery.

However there is very rarely any such thing as expansionary austerity, according to IMF staff economists.

In a careful review of the historical evidence, they find that, typically, a 1 percent of GDP fiscal consolidation reduces real private consumption over the next two years by 0.75 percent, while real GDP declines by 0.62 percent.

They do allow that the drag on GDP coming from spending cuts can sometimes be offset by positive confidence and interest rate effects if a country is facing an acute fiscal crisis, and that the effects of fiscal contraction can also be offset by a weaker exchange rate, as was the case for Canada under Chretien and Paul Martin.

But, as a rule, the Keynesian position that reduction of government spending reduces short-term effective demand and thus growth and employment is found to be supported by a less selective reading of the evidence than that of Alesina and other right-wing economists.

For Canadians this is surely sobering. We face no fiscal crisis – our net debt is far below the OECD average. Austerity cannot produce lower interest rates – short term rates are near zero and the 10 year Government of Canada bond rate is at a near historic low of under 3%. And, with the dollar hugely over-valued and the US teetering on the edge of another downturn, there will be no offset to fiscal contraction from higher exports this time around.

As we begin the 2012 federal Budget debate, Flaherty must be asked why his planned cuts do not risk derailing an already very fragile recovery.

Harry Potter and the tide of history

harry potter

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II 
Directed by David Yates
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint
2010, 130 mins., PG-13

The final installment of the Harry Potter  movie series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, has been accompanied by chatter about what it all means.

Some Christians have complained that the books on which the films are based, with all their magic and wizards, were causing children to accept demonic ideas (though the Catholic Church seems to have given up that fight with the good review it gave to the first Deathly Hallows film). Some atheists jumped into the discussion, arguing that the adventures were actually no good because they were very Christian.

SaskPharm: A proposal for provincial drug production

(Thanks to Ryan Meili)

Click image above to enlarge

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cultural Marxism

Anders Behring Breivik went on his murderous rampage attacking "cultural marxists", among others. Here is what Wikipedia says about cultural marxism. - NYC

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cultural Marxism is a generic term referring to a loosely associated group of Marxists who have sought to apply critical theory to matters of family composition, gender, race, and cultural identity within Western society. 

Background and history

“ We are, in Marx's terms, "an ensemble of social relations" and we live our lives at the core of the intersection of a number of unequal social relations based on hierarchically interrelated structures which, together, define the historical specificity of the capitalist modes of production and reproduction and underlay their observable manifestations. — Martha E. Gimenez, Marxism and Class, Gender and Race: Rethinking the Trilogy

Norway will pass the test

The Norwegian Labour Party
Publisert 25.07.2011

The Norwegian Labour Party together with our youth organization AUF supported and participated on tonights memory processions all over Norway honouring the victims of last weeks attacks. Over 200 000 people attended the procession in Oslo.  

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg:

– The people I see gathered here today, and the warmth I feel from people all over the country makes me certain: Norway will pass the test. Evil can kill a human being, but never defeat a people, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said in his speech.

– Tonight, the norwegian people writes history. With the strongest of all the worlds weapons: free speech and democracy, we stake out the course for Norway after july 22. 2011.

– With torches and roses we give the world a message: We will not let fear break us, Stoltenberg said. 

AUF-leader Eskil Pedersen was also one of main speakers:

– The society somebody tried to take away from us will not crumble. The young people will ensure that it grows and grows. The Norwegian people have met hate with love. We share the grief across ideologies, across age, across background.

– He took some of our most beautiful roses, but he can not stop our spring, Pedersen said.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway’s former Prime Minister (1981, 1986-89, 1990-96) and Party Leader (1981-1992) also participated in the procession.

– My thoughts go to everyone mourning over their lost loved ones. I've had tears in my eyes most of this evening, and I think many people felt it the same.

Our young ones and their families all across Norway are grieving. On behalf of AUF, the Norwegian Labour Party kindly asks all media not to approach or call participants and their relatives at this time.

John Sayles' "Amigo"


Movie Review: Amigo
Directed by John Sayles
2010, 128 Minutes, Rated R

In the year 1900, the leader of a tiny Philippine village listens to his Roman Catholic wife tell him that God may deliver the villagers from the misery created by American military occupiers. "God is busy somewhere else," he replies.

After my movie buddy and I watched the credits to make sure it had a union bug (it did: AFTRA), I asked two different people what they thought of it. Both agreed that it was important for the history of the American occupation that it portrayed. Neither had realized that American imperialism had established itself so early in this important island, but both knew that Americans are still there.

John Sayles, one of America's most important and progressive independent filmmakers, has done us a service in detailing the day-to-day events in a small village occupied by American troops. He hardly hits us over the head with the anti-imperialist message; the American soldiers are too stupid to hate, but he makes sure we see several of the basic elements of military occupation: racism, torture, murder and betrayal.

The main villains are unseen in the film, as they are in Washington, D.C. The villagers, the surrounding guerrillas, the imported workers and the soldiers are the victims, then and now. One can see the movie as only a history, or one can, as Sayles almost certainly intended, draw parallels between the disaster unfolding on the screen and the larger disasters of modern American invasions and occupations.

It would be wonderful to be able to add that this long film has breathtaking pacing, thrilling romance or characters that will burn themselves into our memories, but it doesn't. Sayles is a novelist as well as a filmmaker, and may have mixed up the methodology. Perhaps the narrative was too important to clutter it with emotional highs and lows. Or maybe there is just way too much to say about the effects of imperialism for just one movie.

FMLN Reports on Achievements of First Two Years of Government

25 July 2011

In June 2011, the FMLN released their General Summary of the Principal Accomplishments during the First Two Years of the Government of Change, a comprehensive report on the successes that have been achieved by the FMLN through their participation in the national government.  You can download it here in English and aqui en Español

At the beginning of June, each cabinet member and the President also gave their respective reports to the nation, detailing how public resources and finances were invested, which reflects an overriding commitment by the Funes administration and by the FMLN to increase transparency and accountability. 

According to the FMLN Communications Secretariat, the purpose of the report is to “inform our leaders, elected officials, party members and the general public about the benefits that our government has brought about for the poorest, most vulnerable sectors of the country.” The report covers investments and programs in the areas of education, health, public works, the economy, justice and public security, agriculture, and Salvadorans living abroad.

The “New Saskatchewan”: Neoliberal Renewal or Redux?

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Saskatchewan Office
Socialist Studies, Spring/Fall 2011

The release of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine has popularized the notion that neoliberalism has relied on the rhetoric of crisis and emergency to persuade citizens to accept its economic dictates. How then does one “sell” the neoliberal vision when there can be no recourse to crisis rhetoric, particularly to a population steeped in a social democratic political culture?

It is this question that this essay attempts to resolve by investigating the discourse of the “New Saskatchewan” that has been a favourite and recurrent meme of the Saskatchewan Party since the 2003 electoral campaign.

This paper will argue that rather than relying on the rhetoric of crisis, the “New Saskatchewan” puts forward a discourse of prosperity that promises to unleash the full economic potential of the province through neoliberal economic policy. Moreover, the “New Saskatchewan” (NS) discourse has been specifically tailored to advance this neoliberal project in Saskatchewan by taking special care to address the local specificities unique to the politics of the province, while drawing upon historical narratives and themes that have been emblematic of Saskatchewan political history.

Read HERE.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Do You Want a Wheat Board? - CCF

Saskatchewan CCF

Agri giants poised to grab share

By Peter Koven
Financial Post
Jul 23, 2011

It could be nothing short of a frenzy.

When the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly comes to an end next summer, a group of private sector players from Canada and abroad will leap into the sector and seize as much market share as they can. There will be stiff competition as the winners and losers get sorted out, and no one quite knows what the end result will be.

The only thing certain is that the opportunity for the private sector is enormous.

Libya War Lies Worse Than Iraq

By Thomas C. Mountain
Foreign Policy Journal
July 23, 2011

The lies used to justify the NATO war against Libya have surpassed those created to justify the invasion of Iraq. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both had honest observers on the ground for months following the rebellion in eastern Libya and both have repudiated every major charge used to justify the NATO war on Libya.

According to the Amnesty observer, who is fluent in Arabic, there is not one confirmed instance of rape by the pro-Gadaffi fighters, not even a doctor who knew of one. All the Viagra mass rape stories were fabrications.

Indignados re-occupy Puerta del Sol

By Jérôme E. Roos
July 24, 2011

Post image for Indignados re-occupy Puerta del Sol
Yesterday, the popular marches of the indignant arrived in Madrid — and took back the square. Another major demonstration is planned for today.

On Saturday, the indignados brought much of Madrid to a standstill as the popular marches arrived in the city, taking six different routes from all over the country and culminating in a spectacular re-occupation of Puerta del Sol by tens of thousands of protesters.

And so, a month and a half after the original protest camp was broken down, Sol looks like Sol again. With an incredible degree of professionalism, the indignados set up a TV and radio studio, a communications center, a major kitchen, a sound installation, a clinic and more — all in one night.

Some of the marchers had been walking for over 500 kilometers as part of a campaign to spread awareness about the 15-M movement and its demands to the Spanish countryside and to hold popular assemblies with people who otherwise have little opportunity to participate given their geographic location.

The marches received a warm welcome from thousands of indignados and sympathizers as they arrived in Puerta del Sol from six different angles. In the evening, a major popular assembly was held which was closed off with live music. Today, tens of thousands are expected to take to the streets again for a major march through Madrid.

Also, in a sign that the movement is rapidly maturing into a serious platform for civic engagement and political activism, the 15-M movement has scheduled it’s first Social Forum for Monday.

Nationalists pose bigger threat than al-Qaeda

Contrary to popular belief, most terrorist attacks in Europe are the work of extremist nationalists.
24 Jul 2011 
Listen to this page using ReadSpeaker

Labour Youth camp a few days before massacre
With the death toll nearing 100, Anders Behring Breivik has been arrested and charged with Norway's worst act of terrorism. His lawyer has indicated that Breivik had planned the attack for some time and would explain in court on Monday why he thought his act of terrorism was necessary.

After a predictable and revealing knee-jerk response by security experts interpreting the massacre at a Labour Party summer camp on Utoya island and a car bomb attack on a government building in Oslo as the work of Muslims inspired or directed by al-Qaeda, it transpires that the real culprit in the case was more likely to be motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Film: How Miners Beat a Lockout

LockedOutDVDCover“Locked Out” is a fast-paced story of a workers’ victory in the face of what looked like insurmountable odds. It’s exactly the message that should be seen in union halls across the country and abroad—especially since employers are using lockouts more and more, from U.S. Steel at the Hamilton Works in Canada to the corn-processing lockout of the Bakery and Millers union at Roquette in Iowa.

Strategists at the highly profitable Rio Tinto mining company, one of the world’s largest with $150 billion in assets and 77,000 workers worldwide, thought it would be easy to impose the company’s will on 570 borax miners in the tiny, isolated desert town of Boron, California. They were wrong.

Amidst violence, Guatemala heads for Sept. elections

July 22 2011

Photo: Nobel Peace prizewinner Rigoberta Menchu Tum, center, in a protest by indigenous farmers in Guatemala City, March 31, 2009. (Moises Castillo/AP

On September 11, there are elections in Guatemala to choose a successor to President Alvaro Colom (who, according to the constitution, cannot succeed himself), national legislators and local officials. Guatemala, with a population of about 13 million, is the second most violent country in the Western Hemisphere (after Colombia) and the election campaign is shaping up to be violent also. Moreover, it is not clear to what degree poor and working class Guatemalans, or the 40 percent of the Guatemalans who are indigenous Mayas, can hope for a positive outcome.

Documentary: The Shock Doctrine

A documentary adaptation Naomi Klein's 2007 book, "The Shock Doctrine".

Northerners Say No To Nuclear Waste in Saskatchewan - Group will walk to Regina

Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan
Painting of Mother and Child by local Dene Artist Marius Paul; graphics by local Dene Artist Candyce Paul and Cree Artist Max Morin. "Wanska!" is Cree for "Get up!" and "Nah-the-ruhn-dehl" means "Lift up your head, all of you" in Dene.
The Committee For Future Generations is a group from Northern Saskatchewan who are raising awareness about the possibility of a nuclear waste dump coming to this province.  Support from the north is building, and the group is demanding a province-wide ban on nuclear waste storage & transportation.

The Committee is planning an 820 km walk from Pinehouse to Regina beginning on July 27, 2011 to raise awareness of this issue.

There will be a Forum on Nuclear Waste in Pinehouse to kick off the walk on July 26, 2011.  The forum will feature Francois Paulette well known for his work to protect treaty and aboriginal rights in Canada having served on the National Indian Brotherhood Treaty Implementation Committee, Assembly of First Nations Renewal Commission & Parks Canada Aboriginal Consultative Committee. 

Francois recently invited Avatar director James Cameron to visit Fort Chipewyan in the NWT, a trip which produced the documentary "Tipping Point" aired on The Nature of Things.

“And lastly I just want to say the North doesn’t owe NWMO (Nuclear Waste Management Organization) or the government anything, we don’t owe them anything. They woke up this rock and transformed it and it went out of control on them, we don’t owe them anything to take this dangerous ore back here.” 

       - Max Morin, Committee for Future Generations, June 24, 2011

Here are a few things you can do to support this important campaign:

  • Read and circulate the Open Letter to the people of Saskatchewan.
  • Put up posters in your community & share with friends.  Download greyscale & colour posters.
  • Make a banner & plan to join the walk.
  • Donate food for the walkers.
  • Form a chapter of Committee For Future Generations in your community.
  • Attend the Forum on Nuclear Waste in Pinehouse on July 26, to kick off the walk.
  • Spread the word about this important summer campaign, and see you on the road!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Immigrant worker is modest hero in "A Better Life"

Movie Review: A Better Life
Directed by Chris Weitz
98 minutes, 2011, PG-13

For some reason, the advertisements for A Better Life emphasize that director Chris Weitz's credits include About a Boy. The new movie is much stronger and will leave a long lasting and uplifting memory. Even though the film is about impoverished immigrants who dodge the authorities and stand on street corners every day in hopes of a few hours' work, it never condescends. Neither does it finger-point or try to find villains and heroes.

The heroes are just there, in front of us, and their heroism, like working-class heroism the world over, consists mostly of going to work every day, despite all odds. As the main characters, father and son, struggle for sustenance and what little dignity they can scrape up, the subplots of family troubles, street gangs, poor education, language limitations, betrayal and pervasive racism show incrementally how they are boxed in.

Mexican star Demián Bichir is so thoroughly immersed in his role as an immigrant worker in Los Angeles that audiences are not likely to even remember that they have seen him before. Among his other triumphs, he was the debonair gangster who married Mary-Louise Parker in the tv-comedy "Weeds." The story line, simple and hard-hitting, is so engrossing that audiences may not, until much later, realize that it is the emotional and artistic stepchild of the classic Italian film, The Bicycle Thief. Seeing one of those movies will not distract at all from enjoying the other, and if you have seen neither, you're in for two great treats.

Green Party of Sask. on Kananaskis Conference

Green Party of Saskatchewan
July 20, 2011

The Green Party of Saskatchewan today expressed "profound disappointment" in the outcome of Canada's annual energy and mines ministers' conference, held on Monday and Tuesday in Kananaskis, Alberta.

Party leader Larissa Shasko said, "Instead of planning for an economically and ecologically sustainable green energy future in Canada where jobs will be created and pollution reduced, the energy and mines ministers have irresponsibly chosen to go the route of increased tar sands extraction that will take Canada and the rest of the world past the tipping point of climate change.”

Ken Loach documentary to get first screening after 40 years

Hour-long film made for Save the Children in 1969 will be shown as part of major retrospective at the British Film Institute

By Stephen Bates
20 July 2011

Ken Loach
The veteran film director Ken Loach is used to having his works banned, but none have previously had to wait more than 40 years for a public showing.

His television documentaries on trade unions in the 1980s were pulled from broadcasting and his film Hidden Agenda found few cinemas willing to show it. In September, however, an hour-long documentary film that he made for the Save the Children charity in 1969 is finally to get an airing as part of a major retrospective at the British Film Institute (BFI).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New NYC Blog!

Next Year Country

NYC has set up a new blog in preparation for the celebration of 50 years of medicare on Saskatchewan, July 1, 1962.

Please visit and share the posts on the historic battle that was waged in Saskatchewan to bring health care to everyone.

Link HERE.

Chile's right-wing president on the ropes

By Emile Schepers
People's World
July 20 2011

Sebastian Piñera Echenique
At the beginning of 2010, right-wing billionaire Sebastian Piñera Echenique defeated Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, candidate of the "Concertacion" coalition of social democrats and centrists, which has ruled Chile since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship, by a margin of 51 to 49 percent in a runoff election. In October of that year, Piñera managed to manipulate the media into giving him credit for the rescue of 33 miners in a collapsed copper mine, and his popularity rating went up to 63 percent.

Now, as the latest of blows from a mass upsurge not seen since the days of socialist President Salvador Allende, Piñera's popularity rate is at 31 percent. And 31 of the 33 miners are suing the Chilean government for negligence, for not having properly supervised safety conditions at the privately owned San Jose copper and gold mine in the bleak Atacama region. The mine had a history of safety problems, which the plaintiffs say were not properly dealt with by the responsible government agency, the National Service of Geology and Mines (Sernageomin). They are asking courts for the equivalent of U.S. $16 million. They are also suing the owners, according to AFP.

CoC chapters oppose nuclear waste dump in Saskatchewan

Council of Canadians
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

The Toronto Star reports that, “Ottawa (is looking for) long-term solutions for the country’s nuclear waste (and) wants to build an underground mausoleum for millions of spent radioactive bundles that power nuclear plants in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. …In the ongoing search for a nuclear waste site (to store about two million highly radioactive bundles at a single site)…the federal government is paying close attention to public opinion (and has detected some openness for such a site) in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.”

“The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) kicked off a process last spring to find a community willing to host an underground complex that would serve as a storage dump for all the country’s nuclear waste. …Obtained by The Canadian Press through Access to Information laws, (a NWMO) document summarizes public opinion in the four provinces that have nuclear-related industries and are the most likely sites of the underground repository. …(While noting opposition in Quebec), the report cited a more receptive climate for the multibillion-dollar project in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bob Gay was ‘Regina’s downtown chaplain’: RIP

By Will Chabun
July 19, 2011

REGINA -- One of the best-known fixtures of downtown Regina has died after a long career helping and defending the area’s downtrodden.

Rev. Bob Gay, known for decades as “Regina’s downtown chaplain”, died Monday of natural causes, colleague Rev. Bob Kitchen of Knox-Metropolitan United Church.

Kitchen said Gay was raised in Oshawa and studied at what’s now Emmanuel College, the United Church federated college at the University of Toronto.

Gay was posted as a young minister to Kipling, where he charmed by the prairie.

After about three years there, he took a post in suburban Calgary, but he came to Regina in the late 1960s and soon found a post as a special downtown chaplain working out of “Knox-Met” and financed by downtown United Church, Lutheran, Anglican, Baptist and Presbyterian churches.

A 1973 Leader-Post profile noted that Gay, then 41, had also worked as a part-time jail chaplain and a student in church social work — good training for a man working to bring social justice and old-fashioned help to the poor of the city’s downtown core.

Other clippings show that he pursued his work by sitting on the boards of groups like the city’s planning commission, the Regina branch of the Saskatchewan Association on Human Rights and the nonprofit Regina Low-Income Housing Corp. He spokes widely on the realities of day-to-day life in the downtown area.

“To a certain extent, he was a lone ranger, but he drew on a lot of different people,” said Kitchen.

He added that Gay retired around the mid-1990s, but continued to be a familiar face around what was by then called the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry. “He kept his nose out of their business, but they always asked for help from him,” Kitchen said.

A memorial service is to be held at 2 p.m. Monday at Knox-Metropolitan United Church.

Sandinista Revolution Remembered

In 1979, the Sandinistas won a popular revolution in Nicaragua, putting an end to decades of the corrupt US-backed Somoza dictatorship. They based their reformist ideology on that of the English Co-operative Movement, but was to prove too 'radical' for the Reagan administration.

In this film, John Pilger describes the achievements of the Sandinistas and their "threat of a good example"

Galeano: “this shitty world is pregnant with another”

By Jérôme E. Roos 
July 19, 2011

Post image for Galeano: “this shitty world is pregnant with another”
“This upside-down world is shitty, but it’s not the only one that’s possible. There is another world that awaits us. And the youth are taking it forward.”

Eduardo Galeano (wiki) is a famous Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist who has long commanded intellectual and artistic respect in Latin America, Spain and beyond.

In 2009, one of his books, The Open Veins of Latin America, became a global best-selling sensation all over when Hugo Chávez donated the book — an journalistic diatribe against US imperialism — as a present to President Obama.

More recently, Galeano, who at the age of 70 still bears an unremitting desire to contribute to the improvement of our profoundly shitty world, has been actively following the 15-M movement in Spain, participating in popular assemblies in Madrid and Barcelona.

AcampadaBCN had a short interview with him, which was recently re-posted by the US-based activist magazine Adbusters. In it, Galeano provides some flashing insights of profound wisdom.

The revolution is like love — if you just keep asking every time “where will this lead”, you will never truly experience the beauty of the moment. So be enthusiastic, “keep the Gods inside”, and watch the new world being born within the old:

NATO's Debacle in Libya

July 17, 2011

After three and a half months of bombing and arms supply to various rebel factions, NATO's failure in its efforts to promote "regime change" in Libya is now glaring.

Obviously NATO's commanders are still hoping that a lucky bomb may kill Gaddafi, but to date the staying power has been with the Libyan leader, whereas it is the relevant NATO powers who are fighting among themselves.

The reports from Istanbul of the deliberations of NATO’s Contact Group have a surreal quality, as Secretary of State Clinton and British foreign minister Hague gravely re-emphasize their commitment to regime change and the strengthening of ties to the Transitional Council in Benghazi, while the humiliation of the entire NATO expedition is entering the history books as an advertisement of the dangers of political fantasy in the service of “humanitarian interventionism”, appalling intelligence work, illusions about bombing and air power, and some of the worst press coverage in living memory.

New NDP Ad: Resource royalties

Monday, July 18, 2011

Is the sun setting on “clean” coal?

Even as Saskatchewan promotes its CCS project, massive cost overruns are being encountered in the US. What will CCS here end up costing us? - NYC

By John Blair editor 
July 17, 2011

Most people who have studied the issue easily understand that coal is not clean and really cannot be made so, but that does not keep those who make big money mining and burning the black mineral from making those dubious claims.

Mining coal destroys entire ecosystems, burning it alters our climate, makes people sick and cuts lives short while disposing of its huge volumes of waste contaminates land and water alike.

But of course governments at all levels, still readily support nearly any proposal that describes itself as “clean coal” with massive taxpayer subsidies and lax permitting and enforcement in hopes that perhaps someday, coal might be consumed in ways that society will finally find acceptable.