Sunday, January 15, 2017

Obama's Lies, Male Violence, Meryl Streep & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List January 8-15

This week's list of articles, news items and opinion pieces that I see as must reads if you are looking for a roundup that should be of interest to The Left Chapter readers.

This list covers the week of January 8 - January 15. It is in order of date of the article's release.

1) Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama

Cornel West, The Guardian

Eight years ago the world was on the brink of a grand celebration: the inauguration of a brilliant and charismatic black president of the United States of America. Today we are on the edge of an abyss: the installation of a mendacious and cathartic white president who will replace him.

Read the full article.

2) Canada will party while indigenous kids are denied services

Vicky Mochama, Metro News

For the vast portion of Canadian history, indigenous communities have been stripped of their rights. Underfunding students, bickering over health costs, and allowing children to slip into child welfare cracks is how those rights continue to be abridged.

Read the full article.

3) Black people 3 times more likely to be street checked in Halifax, police say

Phlis McGregor and Angela MacIvor, CBC News

Ashley Taylor tenses up every time he sees a police cruiser because he knows what could be coming next.

"Being pulled over by the police for me," the Nova Scotia resident said, taking a pause, "it's normal."

Taylor, 42, estimates he has been stopped by police an average of three times a year. The student support worker at Dartmouth High School in said it usually happens on his drive to work.

"Is it racial profiling? Possibly."

Read the full article.

4) Protests Erupt in Kentucky After GOP Supermajority Passes Extreme Anti-Choice, Anti-Union Bills

Democracy Now

In Kentucky, hundreds of demonstrators packed into the Capitol building Saturday to protest the state Legislature’s passage of a slew of controversial bills, including an anti-union "right-to-work" law and extreme anti-choice legislation that bans abortions after 20 weeks and requires a woman to have an ultrasound before having an abortion. The surprise emergency legislative session Saturday came after Republicans seized a supermajority in the House of Representatives, giving the Republicans control of the House, the Senate and the governorship for the first time in Kentucky state history. On Saturday, the Legislature also repealed a law that had guaranteed higher wages for workers on publicly financed construction projects. We go to Louisville, Kentucky, for an update from Richard Becker, a union organizer with Service Employees International Union, and we speak with Lisa Abbott, a community organizer with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

Read the full article.

5) New numbers show spike in asylum seekers crossing from U.S. to Manitoba

Austin Grabish & Laura Glowacki, CBC News

The number of asylum seekers crossing the Canada-U.S. border into Manitoba on foot instead of through official ports of entry has risen fivefold in the past three years.

In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, 68 people illegally crossed the international border near the small, southern Manitoba community of Emerson and claimed refugee status, according to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). That jumped to 340 in 2015-2016.

Read the full article.

6) America dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016. What a bloody end to Obama's reign

Medea Benjamin, The Guardian 

Most Americans would probably be astounded to realize that the president who has been painted by Washington pundits as a reluctant warrior has actually been a hawk. The Iran nuclear deal, a herculean achievement, and the opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba unfortunately stand alone as President Obama’s successful uses of diplomacy over hostility.

Read the full article.

7) Jody Issel, Soldiers of Odin Moose Jaw President, Isn't Even Trying Anymore

Anti-Racist Canada

You know, if there's one positive thing about Trump's election is that the racists we've been covering here for years have become refreshingly honest about their views. Take this guy for example:

Read the full article.

8) Why Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe Speech Is So Important in the Trump Era

Juan Cole, Truthdig 

Occasionally entertainment and politics intersect, often hitting a false note.  You never want your screenplay to be, as they say in Hollywood, “on the nose.”  You have to step sideways away from ordinary news and address some dimension of the human condition to make art.

But in moments of national crisis, stars feel a need to speak out. Nick Gass has reviewed some of the major such incidents at the Academy Awards.  Jane Fonda used her moment on the stage at the Academy Awards in the 1970s to denounce the Vietnam War.  Marlon Brando declined to appear and had a Native American activist accept for him, making a statement about Indian rights.

Read the full article.

9) When men kill their partners, warning signs often missed

 Alyshah Hasham & Wendy Gillis, The Toronto Star

Last week, a relative of Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji sat silently in a north Toronto courtroom, watching as Dr. Mohammed Shamji appeared on a charge of first-degree murder. Pinned to her jacket was a purple ribbon to honour victims of domestic violence.

Read the full article.

10) I'm a TTC fare evader

Cliff G., NOW Magazine

My income does not meet the minimum poverty level, so without regular, fulltime employment I just can’t afford to get around this wondrous city. What's the answer? Free. Public. Transit.

Read the full article.

11) Obama’s Last Presidential Lies

Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report

Nobody lies with the style and aplomb of Barack Hussein Obama, soon to be an ex-president of the United States. In his last address to the nation, Obama lied about his support for labor; economic and social justice for Black people; climate change and, of course, the rightwing Republican program that is his shameful legacy, Obamacare. Virtually everything the man says is a form of lie. But he does it so well, and some folks want so badly to believe.

Read the full article.

12) Here's Why Jeff Sessions Was Asked About a Murdered Abortion Doctor 

Stassa Edwards, The Slot/Jezebel

During Jeff Sessions’s confirmation hearing for Attorney General, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, asked Sessions about his endorsement from the extremist anti-choice group, Operation Rescue.

Read the full article.

13) The Boyden Controversy Is Not about Bloodline

Robert Jago, The Walrus

Over the holiday break, I was asked to host the @indigenousXca Twitter account, an account shared by different Indigenous activists, academics, and artists each week. I used that hosting opportunity to raise the question of author Joseph Boyden’s Indigenous identity—his “Indigeneity.” Raising this question inadvertently brought an Indigenous debate about identity and belonging into the non-Native media mainstream.

Read the full article.

14) Prosecutors dismissed his domestic violence charges. Then, police say, he killed his wife.

Lindsey Bever and Sarah Larimer, The Washington Post

For years, friends said, Tara O’Shea-Watson had been a victim of domestic violence.

She had shown up on their doorsteps, battered and bloodied after alleged violent encounters with her estranged husband, they said. She had talked to them about taking her children and fleeing from their home in Commercial Township, N.J., but the courts reportedly would not let her move them out of state.

Read the full article.

15) Activist Hilla Kerner says Christy Clark has done little to address male violence against women

Charlie Smith, The Georgia Straight

Last June, Premier Christy Clark made a startling revelation.

In an article in the Vancouver Sun, she disclosed that 35 years ago, a stranger pulled her off the sidewalk into the bushes.

Read the full article.

16) Why do we coddle violent, abusive men? 

Heather Mallick, The Toronto Star

What are victims worth? When they’re women and children, not much. They’re dead, they only have us to defend them, and we’re doing a poor job.

Read the full article. 

17) The Boyden affair just got murkier

Rick Salutin, The Toronto Star

I found Joseph Boyden’s interview Wednesday on CBC — in a word rarely called for — unctuous. He surfaced three weeks after saying he wouldn’t deal with questions about his indigeneity publicly but only in a “speaking circle.” This after filling what he calls “airtime” for 10 years on every form of media.

Read the full article.

18) These acid-white LEDs serve as a lesson for Toronto planners

Alex Bozikovic, The Globe and Mail

Hit the lights! When Aura, at the corner of Yonge and Gerrard, turned on its exterior decorative lighting about a year ago, the downtown Toronto skyline changed dramatically. The 78-storey condominium tower was capped by long vertical icicles of acid-white LEDs: Many Torontonians were surprised.

Read the full article.

19) Canadian Union of Brewery and General workers on strike


Members of the Canadian Union of Brewery and General Workers (CUBGW/NUPGE) have been at the bargaining table with Molson Coors for months trying to negotiate a fair and reasonable collective agreement.
Despite being in a strike position as of Monday, January 9, the union held off on setting up picket lines to give the employer a last chance to come back with an improved package of proposals. The employer refused to budge.

Today, the members walked out of the plant to a picket line at the gate.

Read the full statement.

20) Judge blasts Toronto police over 'Kafkaesque' traffic stop

Jacques Gallant, The Toronto Star

A judge has acquitted a man of failing to provide a breath sample, rebuking Toronto police officers’ “aggressive” and “verbally abusive” conduct following a simple traffic stop, which included telling the man he needed to exit his car because he had come to a “high drug” area.

Read the full article.

21) After anti-abortion ads on buses, what’s next?

Heather Mallick, The Toronto Star

Why Peterborough agreed to allow anti-abortion ads on its city buses is baffling.

The ads planned for March will show an enlarged photo of a fetus allegedly at seven weeks, then 16 weeks, and then a smear of blood with the slogan “Growing, growing, gone. ABORTION KILLS CHILDREN.”

Read the full article. 

See also: Twitter, Basic Income, Kaepernick, Disney & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List January 1 - 8

See also: Netanyahu, Children of Men, Cheetahs & more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List December 25 - January 1

Saturday, January 14, 2017

NDP Minister Brian Mason and Libertarian Party Leader Tim Moen agree! Jane Fonda is the problem, not climate change.

So, Brian Mason, Alberta's Minister of Transportation and of Infrastructure and the MLA for Edmonton Highlands-Norwood, and Tim Moen, Leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada, among others, agree.

Hollywood elitist Jane Fonda should go back to her own country and shut up until every problem in the US has been solved!

Fonda, of course, had the nerve to come to Canada and tell us that we shouldn't be fooled by “good-looking liberals” like Justin Trudeau who talk out of one side of their mouths about climate change while approving pipelines out of the other.

That Trudeau is a "good looking" liberal who talks the talk without walking the walk would not exactly be controversial on the left if we did not have an NDP government in Alberta that desperately wants to see some pipelines built!

Suddenly he is a paragon of righteousness and virtue now that he is building a pipeline Notley and company want.

No hypocrisy there right?

Instead of embracing and celebrating what Jane Fonda had to say -- which had the virtue of being both accurate and a totally fair critique made by a prominent activist around a number of important causes for decades -- for some on Canada's "left" it was time to indulge in and embrace a variety of right wing tropes about "Hollywood elites" and blah, blah, blah, blah whatever other right wing garbage comes spewing out.

Mason did so on his Facebook page with this gem from twitter:

This predictably attracted a variety of reactionary comments on his page including from folks insulting her with the vile term "Hanoi Jane" in reference to her incredibly courageous stand against the American imperialist war in Vietnam at the time it was happening and her visit to North Vietnam in 1972. (His post was also criticized by many who pointed out in the comments how right wing it sounded).  Mason had left these comments up and had not, at the time of this posting, challenged them in anyway.

Here is one example:

One might note that the NDP also strongly opposed the war in Vietnam in the 60s and 70s, but, of course, the NDP was made of stronger stuff then. I guess Fonda was just "high or mentally disturbed" at the time.

Fonda showed far more courage when she stood in solidarity with the Vietnamese people in Hanoi than we could ever expect to see a fraction of from an NDP elected representative these days on any level.

Needless to say, the sentiments expressed in Mason's comment were also reflected by such luminaries as Tim Moen, Leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada who wrote a mindbogglingly silly piece that basically says what Mason said but in more crass terms implying that no one anywhere should be allowed to make any comment of any kind about anything outside of their own country unless they have solved every issue that exists in their own country first!

This is hilariously imbecilic coming from anyone on the right who would never apply it to those on their own side of the spectrum.

The right has not been shy about making sweeping generalizations about the politics of other countries and Tim Moen, despite his article, could not care less about the issues he raises in his piece that he paints as exposing Fonda's hypocrisy, despite the fact that she has actually long been an activist around these and other causes in the US as well and often a critic of her own government.

She is not the hypocrite here at all. But some on Mason's wall just love how the right and "left" seem to be coming together over this:

And so they should. Because they are uniting on this one.

No one is doing more harm to the left than those like Mason who embrace the most backward and reactionary of tropes just like some did in Ontario around the road toll issue.

Fonda not only has the right to speak her mind in whatever country she chooses she is one hundred percent correct about Trudeau and the pipeline issue more broadly. The only hypocrites are "progressives" who pay lip service to climate change while backing and enacting policy that will exacerbate it.

The air of unreality around issues of climate change has never been greater on the Canadian left. And as if this was not bad enough celebrating right wing rhetoric about supposedly clueless elites trying to kill jobs in an industry that is killing us all is not just straight out of the Republican playbook, it is a grotesque kind of vilification of people trying to prevent an unfolding environmental catastrophe.

One that Canadian leftists, including in the NDP, used to universally admit was real.

See also: What is with all the Ontario left ranting about road tolls and Toronto 'elites'?

See also: The threat of climate change is immediate and real -- Ending 'car culture' is a key part of combating it

Sam Smith Park in Winter -- The Lakeside Parks of South Etobicoke V

The wonderful and relatively little known Sam Smith Park in my neighbourhood of South Etobicoke has been featured several times on this blog.

It is truly one of Toronto's great parks and offers spectacular views year round as it juts out into Lake Ontario. It is also home to an outdoor skating trail that is a must destination for those who like public outdoor ice skating.

Today we return to the park for a photographic trip to highlight its spare beauty in winter. In every season Sam Smith Park has its charms and this one is no exception. If you have not made the trip to it yet -- which is so easy as it lies right at the foot of Kipling and is readily accessible by TTC or car -- then you really must. And if you have visited before in the milder seasons, now is a great time to return for a walk around it again.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Colonel Samuel Smith Park is located south of Lake Shore Blvd. W. in the area of Kipling Ave. The park is on the 501 Queen streetcar line.

See also: Labyrinth Nawayee by the Healing Garden at Sam Smith Park

See also: The New Outlook @ Sam Smith Park -- The Lakeside Parks of South Etobicoke I

Friday, January 13, 2017

Communists in Space! -- Stamps of the USSR I

I have always been fascinated by stamps as what often amount to miniature works of art. They are posters on a very small scale.

While many countries have or had interesting stamps, the stamps of the former USSR are fascinating for their themes and their artistic style which ran along a couple of different lines.

Recently I came across a large collection of Soviet stamps from the 60s and 70s. Over the next few weeks we will take a look at some of the best of these, from stamps related to technology and transportation, portraiture, communist iconography, art, nature, sports and more.

Today we start by looking at some stamps related to the Soviet space program, its triumphs and its goals. The USSR was justly proud of its accomplishments in space which ranged from launching the first satellite into space (Sputnik), to the first man and woman in space (Yuri Gagarin & Valentina Tereshkova), to the first multi-person crew in space, to the first impact into another planet (Venus), etc.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Cosmonaut  Valery Bykovsky (left) who set a five-day human space flight record
and Valentina Tereshkova the first woman and first civilian in space.
They flew in missions Vostok 5 & 6 

This final stamp, sadly, commemorates a tragic event in the history of space flight.
Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev all died when
their capsule decompressed in space.
Their ashes were placed in urns in the Kremlin Wall and in Red Square and all were posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the Order of Lenin and the title of Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR.