Sunday, October 22, 2017

Bill 62, Harvey Weinstein, Climate Change and more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List October 15 - 22

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  October 15-22. It is generally in order of the date of the article's release.

1) Time to make the link between abuse and film content

Kate Hardie, The Guardian

Many creative men have come out since the Weinstein allegations, making it clear that they do not agree with sexual abuse. I wasn’t aware there was any doubt that sexual abuse was a bad thing, but it’s good to have it clarified. (Forgive the sarcasm. It’s been a long week.) But so far, very few have been brave enough to start a conversation about the subtler, yet no less urgent, subject of the content of their own work, to examine their own record regarding the treatment and the representation of women. The focus is quite rightly on the horrendous sexual abuse that Weinstein is alleged to have committed. But to focus on that alone is to miss the point that the portrayal of women – of their lives, their feelings, their sexuality and their bodies – is nearly always decided upon and filtered through male eyes. Nearly every actress will tell you about scripts that included scenes of female nudity that seem to have no apparent reason for being there and that are often degrading.

Read the full article.

2) Colin Kaepernick filing grievance for collusion against NFL owners

Evan Grossman, New York Daily News

Colin Kaepernick is prepared to fight.

The exiled QB filed a collusion complaint against NFL owners, according to multiple reports. Kaepernick filed the complaint outside of the NFLPA, according to ABC News.

Read the full article.

3) Maduro's Socialist Party Wins Venezuela's Regional Polls


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said it was the highest turnout in 15 years - more than 10 million people voted.

Read the full article.

4) Trump fighting court order over release of all documents related to sexual assault allegations

Clark Mindock, The Independent

A woman who says Donald Trump groped her is attempting to get all documents from the President’s 2016 campaign that mention sexual assault.

Read the full article.

5) It’s not just one monster. ‘Me too’ reveals the ubiquity of sexual assault

Suzanne Moore, The Guardian

Me too may be another hashtag. With good intentions. But this time it is showing the ubiquity of sexual assault. “If all women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give everyone a sense of the magnitude of the problem,” said the actor Alyssa Milano. Well, now it’s there all over social media if you choose to see it. Women saying “me too”, often describing their first sexual assault, some when they were not yet 12.

Read the full article.

6) Kevin Smith to donate all of his future residuals from Weinstein-made movies to Women in Film

Derek Lawrence, Entertainment Weekly

Kevin Smith recognizes that his career will forever be linked to Harvey Weinstein, the man whose two previous companies — Miramax and The Weinstein Company — have produced the filmmaker’s most notable projects. So, in the wake of the recent sexual misconduct allegations leveled at the disgraced Hollywood mogul, Smith has decided to donate all of his future residuals from Weinstein-connected projects to Women In Film, a non-profit organization advocating for progress and gender parity in the industry.

Read the full article.

7) 'This is a really big deal': Canada natural gas emissions far worse than feared

Ashifa Kassan, The Guardian

Alberta’s oil and gas industry – Canada’s largest producer of fossil fuel resources – could be emitting 25 to 50% more methane than previously believed, new research has suggested.

Read the full article.

8) Canada’s Ongoing Complicity with Exploitive Extraction Schemes

Niko Block, Socialist Project Bullet

On June 15, 1841, the newly established Legislative Council of the Province of Canada – a body of twenty-four appointed lawmakers – was gathered in its chamber in Kingston. Its speaker, a businessman and nationalist named Austin Cuvilliers, began the day’s proceedings by reminding his peers of their mandate: “Many subjects of deep importance to the future welfare of the Province demand your early attention,” he said, but the most important of them “is the adoption of measures for developing the resources of the Province. The rapid settlement of the country, the value of every man’s property within it, the advancement of his future fortunes are deeply affected by this question.”

Read the full article.

9) Socialist Ginger Jentzen is the greatest city council fundraiser in Minneapolis history

MikeMullen, City Pages

Ginger Jentzen's opponents are hardly surprised.

Asked if they wanted to discuss their campaign's fundraising, in light of one candidate's claim that they were raising money at historic levels, neither Steve Fletcher (DFL) or Samantha Pree-Stinson (Green Party) had to ask which of their opponents was pulling in all that money.

Read the full article.

10) I Got Shut Down While Trying to Report on the Louis C.K. Rumors

Megan Koester, Vice

A couple of years ago, I traveled to a comedy festival in the hopes of asking comedians like Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, and T.J. Miller what they'd heard about Louis C.K. It did not go well.

Read the full article.

11) Sears managers, execs will still pocket big cash bonuses even though retailer is closing

Sophia Harris, CBC News

Sears Canada will pay a final $2.8 million in retention bonuses to 36 head office staff, even though the retailer's restructuring efforts failed and the company is closing its doors.

Read the full article.

12) Theresa May confirms she won't give money to fit tower blocks with sprinklers

Rob Merrick, The Independent

Theresa May has confirmed there will be no Government cash to fit sprinklers in tower blocks, triggering accusations she has broken a promise made after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Read the full article.

13) The Case for Free Public Transit

Tricia Wood, Torontoist

Metrolinx recently announced a program to discount TTC fare for those transferring from the GO Transit system. (Other TTC riders and those transferring from other systems get nothing.) It’s a little gift that will cost about $18 million, but in the greater scheme of things, it’s a pretty weak gesture.

Read the full article.

14) The blood on George W Bush's hands will never dry. Don't glorify this man

Ross Barkin, The Guardian

For liberals across the spectrum, the temptation is real to lionize George W Bush now. Donald Trump is our child-king, slobbering over the country and embarrassing us all. He is parody made real, a lackey for rightwing billionaires everywhere. It’s not hard to find a talking head on the left who will say he is, without question, the worst president America has ever had.

Read the full article.

15) Calls flood Montreal police hotline for victims of sexual misconduct

 Kalina Laframboise, CBC News 

One day after setting up a temporary hotline for complainants of sexual assault and harassment, Montreal police say the calls are pouring in.

Read the full article.

16) O’Reilly Settled New Harassment Claim, Then Fox Renewed His Contract

Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt, The New York Times

Last January, six months after Fox News ousted its chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal, the network’s top-rated host at the time, Bill O’Reilly, struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst to settle new sexual harassment allegations, according to two people briefed on the matter — an extraordinarily large amount for such cases.

Read the full article.

17) Quebec’s Bill 62 declares war on sunglasses

Chantal Hebert, The Toronto Star

Somewhere in the Quebec government’s legal department, a team of lawyers is bracing to argue in court in what may be the not-too-distant future that the wearing of dark sunglasses puts the safety of the province’s public transit system at risk. Ditto presumably in the case of local libraries and city parks.

Read the full article.

18) I Am Disgusted By Trudeau's Response To Quebec's Racist Law

Warren Kinsella, Huffington Post

Either you believe people have an inalienable right to peacefully express their deepest religious views, or you don't.

Read the full article.

19) Jagmeet Singh hopeful Quebec's controversial Bill 62 will be overturned

Catharine Tunney, CBC News

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he's "completely opposed" to Quebec's new and controversial law that would effectively force Muslim women who wear a niqab or burka to uncover their faces to use or provide public services, but he's confident the legislation will be challenged.

Read the full article.

20) Montreal protesters don surgical masks, scarves over new face-covering law

Sean Henry & Jillian Kestler-D'Amours, CBC News

Protesters wearing surgical masks and scarves over their faces lined up Friday along a Montreal bus route to rally against a new law that would force anyone using public services, including Muslim women wearing a niqab or burka, to uncover their faces.

Read the full article.

21) Bill 62 is a racist, sexist, disgraceful law

Allison Hanes, Montreal Gazette

What better way to show how ridiculous it is to try to legislate the dress of the tiny fraction of Muslim women who wear the full face veil than to target all face coverings? Outlaw the balaclava and the bandana, put the kibosh on the cagoule and the cache-cou, let Quebecers get frostbite in the name of fairness — and that will teach the xenophobes the pointlessness and offensiveness of trying to regulate what people wear, whatever the reason.

Unfortunately, it is not a bad joke.

Read the full article.

See also: Harvey Weinstein, Sidney Crosby, Cuba and more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List October 8-15

See also: Las Vegas, Catalonia, Harvey Weinstein and more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List October 1-8

Saturday, October 21, 2017

West Indian Style Beef Short Ribs and Potato

Today we are going to take a look at a way to make delicious beef short ribs on the stove top done with West Indian style flavours and seasonings. Because these are simmered for a long time they are also exceptionally moist and tender.

The first step you want to take is to season each of your short ribs on both sides with the following:

  • liberally with Jamaican style curry powder. You want a thin layer all over the ribs.
  • liberally with a Caribbean seasoning blend. I like and used the Caribbean Spice and Roasted Garlic blend from Cool Runnings, but you can use others or a jerk seasoning blend
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder on each side
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder on each side
  • liberally with black pepper
  • sea salt to taste

Set the seasoned short ribs out on a platter and let sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.

When it is close to cooking time, heat some olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. When the oil is hot add 1 large chopped onion and season it with about a teaspoon of the Jamaican curry powder. Saute the onion for around 3-5 minutes.

Then add your seasoned short ribs and brown them for about 2 minutes a side.

Once they have been browned add enough beef stock to the pot to cover the ribs. Then add the following ingredients:

2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons of a Caribbean style hot sauce (I used El Yucateco Caribbean Hot Sauce)
4 minced cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons minced ginger

Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for around 2 hours.

In the final 30 minutes of simmering you can add potato pieces to the pan.

Serve the ribs with rice and the potatoes.

I like to serve the rib racks whole, though you can cut them up into individual serving pieces.


See also: Stove-top Braised Beef Short Ribs

See also: Beef Short Ribs Charcoal Barbecued with Homemade BBQ Sauce

Friday, October 20, 2017

Russian Art Objects in Tin - 16 Vintage Postcards

This remarkable folder of postcards was published in Leningrad in 1975. It contained 16 examples of art objects in tin that had been made by Russian craftspeople from the 17th century right up until the early 20th and that were part of the huge collection of over 500 such objects at the Hermitage Museum. This was the first time that photos of any of these pieces had been released.

The collection of the Hermitage would have consisted of pieces nationalized from the possessions of wealthy industrialists and aristocrats as well as some taken from the Winter Palace.

While beautiful and fascinating, many were made, of course, to be entirely functional and range from a pepper shaker, to a spectacular mirror, to a tankard.

All the cards  are in Russian and English. The description on the card appears under each photo.

The folder also had a brief written overview of the techniques and themes involved.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Mirror 17th Century - Tin, cast and painted.
Forged iron, wood, mica.

Tankard, first half of the 18th century.
Tin, cast and engraved.

Box 17th century
Cast tin.

Wine Glass, 1682
Tin, cast and engraved.

Wine glass, Mid-18th century.
Tin, cast and engraved.

Wine glass, first half of the 18th century.
Bowl with lid, mid-18th century.
Tin, cast and enameled.

Flask and bowl, first half of 18th century.
Cast tin.

Candlestick, 1748.
Tin, cast and engraved.

Wine glasses, first quarter of the 18th century.
Tin, cast and engraved.

Ink well, early 20th century.
Ceramic, tin, cast and engraved.

Pepper shaker, 17th century.
Tin, cast and engraved.

Decorative ornaments, 17th century.
Cast tin.

Wine glass, first half of the 18th century.
Cast tin.

Presentation plate, early 20th century.
Cast tin.

Chalice, 1671
Tin, cast and engraved.

Serving plate, first half of the 18th century.
Tin, cast and engraved.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

If there is no left, there is no left -- A short note on the politics of appeasement and socialist ideology

"This campaign has also showed us that we as a city are not as united as we may have thought. There are many different points of view on how we move forward. And the best part of city council is we get to leave our ideology at the door."

The quote above is drawn from the victory speech of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi who won reelection this week against a serious contender on the right. Nenshi had originally been expected to win handily but the race became closer than anticipated due to a variety of issues including what amounted to an attempt at political blackmail by the owners of the city's hockey team the Flames.

While seemingly mundane and very par for the course as a statement by a liberal, "progressive" or social-democratic politician in this era, its underlying narrative is fascinating and telling.

Nenshi could not possibly have embodied more the bankruptcy and politics of retreat and the constant pandering that aims towards the illusion that a polity can be "united" -- or that this is a worthwhile goal, which it is not -- that is modern "progressivism", liberalism and social democracy if he had tried.

Despite its pretensions at embracing the eschewing of ideology (or, more accurately, because of them) the comment is a deeply ideological one.

We see this kind of 'progressive' rhetoric all the time including from the once socialistic NDP. And it is a rhetoric that is entirely about diminishing the expectations of the workers and the powerless while also supposedly dampening the fears of the powerful and the business class.

Though there are a great many we can point to one need only look a little further north within Alberta to Edmonton to find a recent example of this.

After pulling off one of the great political upsets in Canadian history, the new NDP Premier Rachel Notley began her tenure by on her very first day in office going out of her way to strike an explicitly collaborationist and conciliatory tone with the business community and the energy sector.

"I'm going to be making phone calls today to leaders within the energy industry to begin those conversations. They can count on us to work collaboratively with them. I'm hopeful that over the course of the next two weeks they will come to realize that things are going to be just A-OK over here in Alberta."

Would the NDP government favour unions and workers over capital and big business? Of course not! Hence when "asked about the close relationship the NDP traditionally has with unions, Notley said there will be no fear or favour shown" because "my job is to represent all Albertans". To make sure there could be no misunderstanding she went on to say "there's no question that there's common cause on many issues with union leaders, but there's also common cause on many issues with business leaders. That's the kind of approach I'm going to take with governance."

This kind of quisling tradition within social democracy of reaching out to and wanting the approval and respect of the enemies of the working class and of people living in poverty goes back a very long way. It is deeply ironic that shortly after winning the election Notley also assured the media that "an Alberta NDP government will in no way resemble NDP premier Bob Rae’s controversial regime in Ontario between 1990 and 1995". Ironic given that one of the earliest steps that Rae took in backing away from the mildly radical "An Agenda for People" that he and the party had run on during the 1990 election was to reassure the Ontario business community that they had nothing to fear from him. He began framing his government in ways identical to how Notley would 25 years later. She could have almost been his echo.

As we know, Rae's attempts to court the business community and moderate the NDP's agenda not only did not placate Bay St at all (they waged a relentless and vicious campaign against his government from day one) it alienated his base and the party's supporters. Whatever was accomplished by the Rae government was very quickly undone by the reactionary Harris government in the years after Rae's defeat in 1995. A lesson social democrats, Notley included, either never seem to learn or draw the wrong conclusions from.

This notion of 'progressive' or social democratic governance is an explicit rejection of class politics and of the idea that a 'progressive', labour or left party or government is meant to represent the workers and, yes, to take their side and act in their interests.

To the great cry of "which side are you on" it answers with "both", which is no answer at all. The principle of "evenhandedness" is predicated on a quaint idealization of capitalist "democracy" where workers and their bosses are all parts of society who need to work together for the "common good" and "shared values", etc.

But power, wealth and influence are not at all evenly distributed in our society or economy. A party or politician that says they will seek to represent "everyone" is at best going to aim at a few token reforms that will attempt to "humanize" capitalism while keeping all of the fundamentals and structures of it completely in place. Workers and their bosses do not share "common interests". You cannot be a party of the working class or a party that claims to be on their side and acting in their interests and yet represent "everyone".

At times it is like the so many New Democrats and their supporters who love to share the 'Mouseland' parable that Tommy Douglas made famous have entirely missed its point. It is not going to be a government by and for the mice if it wants to find "common cause" with the cats.

The only way to push an agenda that will seriously combat inequality, poverty, precarious work, exploitation and many other social and economic injustices is to confront the corporate agenda head-on. This means fighting for economic and social policies that are not in the interests of the corporations or business owners at all and it does exactly mean favouring workers and, when they exist, their representatives, organizations and unions. It also means repudiating the neo-liberal ideological hegemony that has existed in North America for over a generation.

Part of the success of this hegemony has been the defeat of working class and socialist ideas and polices to such an extent that even many who call themselves socialists are confused as to what the word means anymore.

Nenshi, of course, neither is nor would ever claim to be a socialist, though he is very popular in the Canadian left. To many in the public and on the left the NDP, however, is still seen as some form of a socialist party -- even if vaguely -- in spite of the fact that the federal party itself has officially discarded the word. On occasion an NDP politician will even describe themselves as a "socialist", though more often it is viewed as a "rusty anchor" that needs discarding as former Manitoba MP Pat Martin so famously opined.

Nowhere was the confusion about socialism's meaning more glaringly proven then during the Bernie Sanders campaign (and he actually did call himself a socialist) in the United States where popular notions of what socialism is and isn't were shown to be hopelessly muddled. Hence we were treated to silly videos and internet memes with nonsense about how "if you are opposed to socialism you are opposed to the post office and public parks", etc., as if anything public or publicly funded is an example of socialism at work.  This was even extended in some cases to trying to portray the army as a socialist institution and to call corporate bailouts socialism in action which is inane.

It is not that the post office, public parks and what have you are not "good things", it is that they have nothing at all to do with working class or socialist models of ownership or society. Socialism loses all meaning and becomes simply a term for radical liberalism unless it continues to have as its aim the overturning of capitalist modes of ownership and government and their replacement by worker ownership and control over both the economy and society.

Cheddi Jagan, who as leader of the Guyanese People's Progressive Party was a great popularizer of socialist ideas in Guyana from the 1950s through to the 90s, wrote of the differences between capitalist and reformist forms of nationalization, as an example, and socialist ones.

He noted that some forms of "nationalization" are not nationalization at all as with the armed forces or NASA in the United States which are publicly run and financed for rather obvious national security reasons but which also serve as a way to funnel vast government funds to big corporations through very lucrative contracts.

This is not socialism.

Further, in capitalist countries when enterprises or sectors of the economy were or are nationalized this is generally done to keep resources out of foreign hands or to provide services such as electricity to corporations and citizens more rationally and more cheaply. The workers of these new state enterprises do not control them and their new boss, the state and its technocrats, are not necessarily a more generous or benevolent employer.

As Jagan once put it:
The stress of socialist nationalisation was on the producer -- to stop the exploitation of the workers; the stress of reformist nationalisation is on the consumer -- to provide a cheaper service.  
The difference between a socialist program of nationalization versus a social democratic or liberal desire to nationalize or keep in public hands this or that industry or service consists not solely in the extent of the nationalization but in the very aims and goals of it.

Again as Jagan phrased it:
It is essential not merely to transfer ownership of the means of production (factories, land, machines, tools, etc.) from foreign-private to state, but also to change the relations of production with the aim of making socialist production relations predominant. Economic growth and nationalisation alone do not mean socialism. Although a certain level of economic development is a prerequisite for socialism it is not its content. Socialism is a class and political concept; its essence consists in the socialisation of the basic means of production, distribution and exchange and the establishment of the rule of the working people. 
This can be more broadly applied. A genuine socialist program may involve steps, polices and actions under capitalism akin on the surface to those that may be taken in some instances by liberal reformists, social democrats or even right wing statists or nationalists, but its desired destination is fundamentally different.

We can have debates about what methods and means are to be used to get to this destination, but if the social ownership of the basic means of production and the rule of the working class is not the ultimate goal, then the goal is not socialism.

This is not simply an academic point. By denuding "socialism" of its meaning, as was done with the term "social democracy" before it, the very idea of an actual alternative to capitalism as a system becomes dimmer. If "socialism" becomes about doing or creating "good things" or standing up for a nebulous variety of causes under capitalism then it is no longer an anti-capitalist idea and there is one less threat to the power of the corporations and the bosses.

If there is no coherent and organized anti-capitalist left, then there is no coherent and organized anti-capitalist left.

Those who seek to diminish or strip ideology of its importance under capitalism are either consciously or unconsciously turning politics into a narrative about who will be the "better", "fairer" or more "just" manager or show "leadership" under a system that is fundamentally unfair and unjust. They have conceded in advance that the economics, class and political structure and society of the future will look fundamentally the same as those of today and the past.

Socialists need to reject this politics of defeat and preserve the socialist vision as one of working class and human emancipation from capitalism. Socialists should always know which side of the class struggle they are on and would do well to build parties and movements that reflect this and will govern accordingly.

Monday, October 16, 2017

United Action Can Defeat War Measures Act - Communist Party of Canada 1970

Vintage Leftist Leaflet Project

See the end of this post for details on the project.

Leaflet: United Action Can Defeat War Measures Act - Communist Party of Canada 1970 

On October 16, 1970 the federal Trudeau government used the pretext of two kidnappings by the extremist Quebec nationalist group the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) (which supposedly constituted an "apprehended insurrection") to introduce the War Measures Act suspending the habeas corpus rights of Canadians and allowing police wide latitude to arrest people without the laying of charges. This was one of the most grotesque anti-democratic actions in modern Canadian history and was an enormous overreaction to the activities of fringe elements.

As Tommy Douglas said at the time, "The government, I submit, is using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut."

With the War Measures Act in place the Trudeau government rounded up hundreds of entirely innocent nationalist and leftist activists in Quebec, sought to deal a crippling blow to the emergent Parti Québécois and to interfere in the upcoming Montreal municipal elections.

While the introduction of the Act was very popular in the immediate climate of manufactured hysteria, there were a number of courageous Canadians (remembering that the Act allowed the arrest of anyone without the need of even a pretext of having actually committed a criminal act) who stood against it including 16 NDP MPs, many leftist activists across the country and much of the country's labour movement. They have been vindicated by history.

This circular and statement was released and distributed by the Communist Party of Canada in the days just after the War Measures Act was introduced. It outlines the groups resisting the act, the terrible and frightening consequences of it, as well as what the real targets and motives of the act were.

(Click on scans to enlarge)

When The Left Chapter began part of what I wanted to do on the blog was to show and highlight vintage public leftist election/political leaflets and booklets. While many of these have been offered with commentary to date, a very large collection of hundreds of them from several different sources remains and to preserve these often quite rare documents we will be posting them on a regular (almost daily) basis now often without or with minimal commentary so that people may have access to them as quickly as possible as an historical resource. 

While these will all be leaflets from a variety of different leftist viewpoints and countries, they are being posted as an historical/study resource and the views or opinions expressed in them do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog or blogger.

All of these posts (as well as posts made to date) will be listed on the page: Vintage Communist/Socialist Leaflets  (which is still being updated with past posts).

If you have any public, vintage leaflets or booklets you would like to contribute to this project please contact us via

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Harvey Weinstein, Sidney Crosby, Cuba and more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List October 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  October 8 - 15. It is generally in order of the date of the article's release.

1) Against Mars-a-Lago: Why SpaceX’s Mars colonization plan should terrify you

Keith A. Spencer, Salon

Thomas Frank, writing in Harpers, once wrote of a popular t-shirt he sighted while picnicking in a small West Virginia coal town: “Mine it union or keep it in the ground.” The idea, of course, is that the corporations interested in resource extraction do not care whatsoever about their workers’ health, safety, or well-being; the union had their interests at heart, and was able to negotiate for safety, job security, and so on. I’d like to see a similar t-shirt or bumper sticker emerge among scientists and space enthusiasts: “Explore Mars democratically, or keep it in the sky.”

Read the full article.

2) Revisiting Star Trek’s Most Political Episode

Robert Green II, The Atlantic

“It’s not that they don’t care. It’s that they’ve given up.” This was how Commanding Officer Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks, described early 21st-century Americans in an episode from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When it aired in 1995, “Past Tense” spoke to contemporary concerns about homelessness by telling a story set in 2024—the near future for viewers, but the distant past for characters. In the two-part episode, Sisko and two of his companions from the U.S.S. Defiant find themselves stranded in San Francisco, where they’re reminded that the federal government had once set up a series of so-called “Sanctuary Districts” in a nationwide effort to seal off homeless Americans from the general population. Stuck in 2024, Sisko, who is black—along with his North African crewmate Dr. Julian Bashir and the fair-skinned operations officer Jadzia Dax—must contend with unfamiliar racism, classism, violence, and Americans’ apparent apathy toward human suffering.

Read the full article.

3) Far-right protesters give fascist salutes in Madrid as thousands rally over Catalonia crisis

Chantal Da Silva, The Independent

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Barcelona and Madrid this weekend to protest for – and against – the Catalan government’s push for secession from the rest of Spain.

Read the full article.

4) Mike Pence’s NFL Walkout Was a Cheap, Transparent Stunt

Dave Zirin, The Nation

Vice President John Nance Garner once said that being the vice president was “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” (Many know this quote as “bucket of warm spit.” It’s “piss.”) The current holder of that office, Mike Pence, showed on Sunday that Garner, if alive, would owe an apology to piss buckets everywhere.

Read the full article.

5) Why Are Venezuela's Regional Elections So Crucial?

Mision Verdad

The regional elections (Governor and States Legislative Council) are a key importance issue in Venezuela’s current political situation. We might be tempted to treat them as trivial if they were just new elections after so many others. But that's not what they are.

Read the full article.

6) Conservatives are the real campus thought police squashing academic freedom

 George Ciccariello-Maher, The Washington Post 

By bowing to pressure from racist internet trolls, Drexel has sent the wrong signal: That you can control a university’s curriculum with anonymous threats of violence. Such cowardice notwithstanding, I am prepared to take all necessary legal action to protect my academic freedom, tenure rights and most importantly, the rights of my students to learn in a safe environment where threats don’t hold sway over intellectual debate. Alongside organizations like the Campus Antifascist Network, I will continue to challenge white supremacists in an effort to make Drexel and all universities safe space for an intellectual debate among equals.

Read the full article.

7) Jemele Hill is paid to opine, so why has she been silenced?

Jeff Pearlman, CNN

Jemele Hill has one job responsibility: To opine on the world of sports.

Read the full article.

8) Crosby, Penguins enjoy luxury of political indifference at White House

Emma Teitel, The Toronto Star

Sidney Crosby is a lucky guy. On Monday, the Stanley Cup champion told the CBC that he “grew up under the assumption” that politics “wasn’t something really bred into sports.” From his side of things, he told the broadcaster, “there’s absolutely no politics involved.” And why would there be? He quite literally has no skin in the game.

Read the full article.

9) Trump congratulates mostly non-American NHL team on being “incredible patriots”

 Zack Beauchamp, Vox

Ultimately, some people matter more than others — which is how white foreigners are “incredible patriots” while black Americans asking to be treated equally get labeled “sons of bitches.”

Read the full article.

10) Utah officer who handcuffed nurse in video after she refused to draw blood is fired

Lindsay Whitehurst, The Toronto Star

A Utah police officer was fired Tuesday after being seen on video roughly handcuffing a nurse because she refused to allow a blood draw in an incident that became a flashpoint in the national conversation about use of force.

Read the full article.

11) Over 80% of reserves have median income below poverty line, census data shows

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Four out of every five Aboriginal reserves have median incomes that fall below the poverty line, according to income data from the 2016 census that provides insight into the depth of poverty facing Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

Read the full article.

12) The Tragic Failure of Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War”

Christopher Koch, Counterpunch

There is so much to love about this series. The uncompromising scenes of combat, the voices of both Americans and Vietnamese, the historical context, the exposure of the utter incompetence of our military leaders, the terrific music that is frequently exactly where it should be, the slowly revealed powerful still images and Peter Coyotes’ wonderful narrative voice. Its tragic failure is its inability to hold anyone responsible for their actions.

Read the full article.

13) Protection order denied because danger wasn't 'imminent,' woman told

 Donna Carreiro, CBC News

A Manitoba woman — who says her ex-husband is stalking her, threatening her and has access to weapons — was denied a protection order, she says, because she is not in "imminent danger."

Read the full article.

14) UK gender inequality as bad as 10 years ago, EU league table shows

Daniel Boffey, The Guardian 

Britain has made zero progress in tackling inequality between the sexes in the past decade and lags behind Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and France in the EU’s latest gender equality league table.

Read the full article.

15) A Halifax Magazine Ran This Super Racist Cartoon Of A Local Black Poet

Ishmael N. Daro, Vice

A black poet and activist says a cartoon published by Frank magazine was meant to dehumanize her after she called out racism in Halifax.

Read the full article.

16) When a Predator runs for Public Office

Rylee Ann Schuhmacher, Medium

There are a lot of sides to the story of how I was raped in late August, and what happened before and after.

Read the full article.


Shaun King, The Intercept

IT’S STRANGE HOW some things really catch on and go viral and others don’t. These days, nothing quite makes a story blow up — no pun intended — like the president’s fixation with it. That’s why it’s so peculiar that what sure looks like an attempted terrorist attack was narrowly thwarted at an American airport this past Friday without so much as a peep from Donald Trump about it. No tweets. No nicknames for the alleged would-be-terrorist. Nothing. You’ll see why in a minute.

Read the full article.

18) Local labor union files complaint over Jerry Jones' anthem mandate

Todd Archer, ESPN

Local 100 of the United Labor Unions filed a complaint against the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday, alleging owner and general manager Jerry Jones has violated the National Labor Relations Act by threatening players if they choose not to stand for the national anthem.

Read the full article.

19) Counter-Petition to Educate Anti-Seal Activist Jennifer N about Anti-Indigenous behaviour and Colonialism. Support Kukum Kitchen

Recently, a Canadian named Jennifer N. started a petition targeting an Indigenous-owned Toronto restaurant named Kukum Kitchen (whose doors recently opened in June). Jennifer’s "cause" petitions for seal meat to be removed from the menu, an Indigenous menu. As all educated Indigenous people and Canadians know, anti-sealing campaigns have had detrimental economic impacts for the Inuit (please watch Angry Inuk directed by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril or read any of the countless articles written on this topic).

Read and sign the petition.

20) Hollywood men silent over Weinstein allegations as women speak out

Sam Levin and Julia Carrie Wong , The Guardian

Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Kate Winslet and dozens of other women in Hollywood have condemned the producer Harvey Weinstein amid a growing number of sexual harassment allegations. Most high-profile men in the industry, however, have remained silent.

Read the full article.

21) From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories

Ronan Farrow, The New Yorker

Since the establishment of the first studios, a century ago, there have been few movie executives as dominant, or as domineering, as Harvey Weinstein. He co-founded the production-and-distribution companies Miramax and the Weinstein Company, helping to reinvent the model for independent films with movies including “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “The Crying Game,” “Pulp Fiction,” “The English Patient,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “The King’s Speech.” Beyond Hollywood, he has exercised his influence as a prolific fund-raiser for Democratic Party candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Weinstein combined a keen eye for promising scripts, directors, and actors with a bullying, even threatening, style of doing business, inspiring both fear and gratitude. His movies have earned more than three hundred Oscar nominations, and, at the annual awards ceremonies, he has been thanked more than almost anyone else in movie history, ranking just after Steven Spielberg and right before God.

Read the full article.

22) How Top NBC Executives Quashed The Bombshell Harvey Weinstein Story

Yashar Ali & Lydia Polgreen

In mid-August, Ronan Farrow, an NBC News contributor, had secured an interview with a woman who was willing to appear on camera, in silhouette, her identity concealed, and say Harvey Weinstein had raped her, according to four people with close knowledge of the reporting. It was a pivotal moment in a testy, months-long process of reporting a story that had bedeviled a generation of media and Hollywood reporters.

Read the full article.

23) Harvey Weinstein expected Hollywood to keep protecting him, and why wouldn't he?

Holly Baxter, The Independent

The reasons why men may have worked to keep allegations of Weinstein’s sexual harassment out of the media – or at the very least remained silence on issues which clearly crossed a moral line – are most likely the same reasons why so many women who have now shared their stories didn’t do so before.

Read the full article.

24) My life has been marked by sexual harassment – just like all women

Suzanne Moore, The Guardian

I didn’t grow up in Hollywood. Far from it. But I did grow up a girl, and I remember. Because who can forget? We are in the park. Someone has “told” us about a funny man at the bus stop. We don’t know what this means really. We are 10. He comes over and starts chatting. He unzips his trousers and gets his penis out. We stare for what feels like a long time. Screaming, we run away. Next day he is outside our school and we are not sure who to tell because we think we shouldn’t have spoken to him.

Read the full article.

25) I am not shocked, you are not shocked, no one is shocked, stop pretending to be shocked

Meghan Murphy, Feminist Current

By now, most of us have heard about the ongoing allegations against Harvey Weinstein, one of the biggest movie producers in history and predator of the moment. But as stories of harassment and sexual assault continue to pour in, and as more and more actors speak out, relaying their “disgust” and “horror,” what has shocked me most is not Weinstein’s abusive behaviour, but the shock itself.

Read the full article.

26) Mass hysteria may explain 'sonic attacks' in Cuba, say top neurologists

Julian Borger and Philip Jaekl, The Guardian

Senior neurologists have suggested that a spate of mysterious ailments among US diplomats in Cuba – which has caused a diplomat rift between the two countries – could have been caused by a form of “mass hysteria” rather than sonic attacks.

Read the full article.

27) A tale of two islands

Vijay Prashad, Frontline

One island, a poor socialist state with infrastructure in grave need of modernisation, has slowly emerged out of the chaos caused by a hurricane’s wrath, while the other, a territory of the richest country in the world, cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Read the full article.

See also: Las Vegas, Catalonia, Harvey Weinstein and more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List October 1-8

See also: Puerto Rico, Hugh Hefner, Anthem Protests and more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List September 24 - October 1

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Singh's victory was a direct repudiation of the left by the NDP -- It is pointless to pretend otherwise

In the two weeks since Jagmeet Singh was elected leader of the federal NDP in a first ballot landslide where nearly half of party members did not even bother to vote at all, the dust has settled to reveal a party that neither wanted nor embraced any serious change of course or path of introspection after the catastrophe of 2015.

It is often worth waiting to see the narratives that emerge in the days following a vote such as this one and these have varied from the predictable to the farcical.

Predictably the party pundits and establishment -- as well as, significantly, a variety of right wing or liberal media commentators outside of the party -- have embraced Singh's victory as the dawn of a new era of leadership that will be aimed at electorally besting Trudeau and that rejects any silly notions of radicalism or leftism.

Of course, the very same people also embraced Mulcair's victory in exactly the same way in the 2012 leadership contest.

Singh is regularly framed as a serious contender against Trudeau not due to his polices but due to his perceived charisma, good looks and even his hair. This is par for the course in a neoliberal politics that infantilizes voters and that intentionally seeks to dumb down the discourse and minimize differences between the parties.

As I have noted before, it is no mystery why the mainstream media to a degree celebrates folks within the NDP like Singh and Mulcair as they represent a non-threatening, centrist oriented version of "social democracy". If there is no real left, there is no real left and there is nothing that makes the notion that truly anti-capitalist or socialist ideas are absurd or not to be taken seriously more creditable then when what used to be a socialist party itself repudiates these ideas.

New Democrats and "progressives" should stop feigning surprise when the mainstream media casts a spotlight on politicians in the NDP like Singh. It makes perfect sense that they would.

The NDP's marginalized left supporters were reduced to trying to claim a "moral" victory that is not at all readily apparent to anyone who is not looking to desperately seek out any reason at all why socialist or anti-capitalist activists should continue to support or work within a party that would have been best abandoned a generation ago.

The line that emerged from this quarter was not that the leadership results showed yet again the futility of trying to shift the party left -- a tactic that has failed for over 40 years with ever decreasing results -- but rather that somehow the "left" and the candidacy of Niki Ashton had pushed all the candidates to take more socialistic positions in the wake of the ouster of Mulcair.

But this position is silly and simply ignores the fact that events both outside the NDP and outside of Canada played a far greater role in what little ramping up of the left rhetoric that there was. Justin Trudeau's outmaneuvering of Tom Mulcair on the "left" in the federal election, as well as the campaigns of Sanders in the United States and Corbyn in the UK framed a context where any candidate was going to strike a more mildly "left" tone.

This is indicative a new and broader shift to the left in the progressive wing of the public both domestically and internationally that, sadly, the NDP had basically nothing at all to do with.

It is more than a bit a humourous -- as well as a sign of its total irrelevance within the party -- to see what is left of the NDP's left framing the leadership contest as showing its "influence" when the sole candidate running on anything remotely like a serious leftist platform only got 17.4% of the votes of the 52.8% of New Democrats who got around to casting a ballot.

If this signals that the "left" is a serious force in the NDP, I fail to see how. Especially as there is no evidence at all the Ashton or most of those who backed her will try to set themselves up as an opposition within the party.

There was not much of a left socialist case for continuing with the NDP going into the leadership race (and whatever one there was rested rather tenuously on Ashton)  and any serious analysis of the results would indicate that there is even less of one now, especially in light of the party's total repudiation of a shift akin to that occurring in the British Labour Party.

The notion that Ashton or any other campaign pushed the party to the "left" is fanciful at best, diversionary at worst, and is more wishful thinking than so-called analysis. I think this will be borne out rather quickly.

Now, with the former deputy leader of the odious ONDP in charge, and with the focus being on the most shallow of charismatic electoral considerations,  you can look forward to an exceptionally light and entirely rhetorical version of "social democracy".

The left in Canada seems trapped in a feedback loop of either insisting that the NDP is or can be a vehicle that it is not and never will be, or of suicidally eschewing left electoral vehicles or coalitions outside of the NDP altogether. Singh's easy victory and the total absence of a cohesive and significant left alternative to it either within the NDP or in federal Canadian politics more broadly shows that while the conditions are clearly there to directly challenge neoliberal austerity capitalism ideologically and politically on the larger stage of party politics, leftists and socialists continue to be either unwilling or unable to take the steps necessary to do so.

See also: Conundrum: Niki Ashton and the NDP leadership campaign

Thursday, October 12, 2017

My Recipes are for the Birds w. Cardinal Casserole, Jay Jambalaya & more -- Vintage Cookbook TBT

Vintage Cookbook: My Recipes are for the Birds

Publication Details: Doubleday 1976

Published in 1976 this vintage cookbook is something of a departure for us, as it is not a "cookbook" for humans at all! Rather, as it name indicates, "My Recipes are for the Birds" provides a variety of concoctions aimed at keeping our winged friends alive and well during the months of fall and winter.

The book begins with a few pages of practical advice on feeders, ingredients etc, and then moves on to its recipes for individual birds from "Blueberry Betty" to "Wren Wrolls". Each recipe is accompanied by a charming illustration. The book ends with some pages detailing the winding down of the feeding season. 

It is all presented in a spiral format that is both handy and adds to the charm.

Here we look at some of the introduction and conclusion, as well as at a few recipes for some of my favourite birds.

(Click on scans to enlarge) 


The Truth About Wage Concessions

The Truth About Wage Concessions 

(Source: CUPE: The Facts Bulletin, April 1984)