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Right-Wingers' Quebec-Bashing Attack on Nycole Turmel

"Federal office... is closed to any Québécois who harbours doubts about the nature of the existing federal regime" is the attitude at the centre of the attacks at the federal NDP's interim leader, points out Richard Fidler in his blog post about the recent attacks on the NDP, "Nycole Turmel’s induction in the federalists’ wonderland."

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Democrats & Republicans Agree on Big Cuts

"The evidence is overwhelming that Obama has long wanted exactly what he got: these severe domestic budget cuts and even ones well beyond these, including Social Security and Medicare, which he is likely to get," argues Glenn Greenwald. Read his article about the debt ceiling deal in the US here.

Also, check out Lenin's Tomb on "Obama's Deficit Deal."

US Debt Ceiling Debate: All About Cuts to Social Programs

"Interesting game of chicken, isn’t it? It seems that Wall Street, the banksters and the capitalist ruling class as a whole have to decide how close to come to the brink of default, in order to force through their program of austerity on a terrified population." Read the rest of a statement from Solidarity here.

More from economist Dean Baker (who's right to see the attack on social programs, but doesn't recognize that the roots of the economic crisis go deeper than the collapse of the housing bubble in the US) here.

Norway murders had "a clinical and a political cause" -- it's time for stronger anti-racism

"When the world believed this to be an act of international Islamist terrorism, state leaders, from Obama to Cameron, all stated that they would stand by Norway in our struggle. Which struggle will that be now? All western leaders have the same problem within their own borders. Will they now wage war on homegrown rightwing extremism? On Islamophobia and racism?" writes Aslak Sira Myhre. Read the rest of the Norwegian socialist writer's article here.

 

Media's racist response in aftermath of mass murder in Norway

In the corporate media, "The idea is to find some way in which all of this is still the fault of Muslim immigrants. The logic will be: the fascists express legitimate grievances, but go too far. Or worse, in their natural outrage, they have allowed themselves to become like them...  By one means or another, what is being avoided here is that Anders Breivik's politics were shaped not by the fact of immigration, nor by jihadism, nor by any actually existing Muslims, but by ideas beginning in the mainstream right and radiating out to the far right." Read the rest of Richard Seymour's "Still Blaming Muslims."

A Swedish socialist reports on the response of the head of the Norwegian Labour Party's youth wing to the massacre here, mentioning that the white Christian fundamentalist killer called himself "Marxist hunter."

Greek Austerity a "Dress Reharsal" for the US?

The new "rescue package" for Greece and the Eurozone is designed to prevent a financial crisis triggered by more European countries defaulting on their debts, but Greece will still default soon and in Europe "the ferocious attack on working people will only intensify."

In the US, the Republicans' insistence on outrageous cuts in exchange for agreeing to increase the federal government's debt limit has the effect of making a deal containing large but less extreme cuts to social programs and the elimination of a tax measure that helps working people look good. Watch an interview with US economist Michael Hudson, who calls what's happening in Greece a "dress rehearsal" for the US, here.

Behind the UK phone-hacking scandal: News Corp, crime, corruption and class rule

"What has been exposed is not a rogue corporation or some immoral individuals. It is nothing less than the ruthless maximisation of profit at almost any cost, even in a commercial field so highly sensitive to public opinion," argues Piers Mostyn. Read his whole article here.

Egypt: A Socialist Reply to Military Council's Threats

Statement from the Revolutionary Socialists

Only a short while ago, the spokesman of the Military Council, Major General Fangari, saluted the martyrs of the revolution and melted Egyptians’ hearts with the memories of the days they spent chanting that the army and the people were “one hand”.

Today he delivered another kind of message to the revolutionaries: threats to “take all necessary measures to confront the threats which encircle the homeland unless this questioning of the ongoing process ceases… as do the rumours and misconceptions which lead to discord and rebellion and the promotion of the interests of a narrow minority over those of the country as a whole.”

He calls for honest citizens to work for the return of normal life for the children of “our great people”, and, brandishing his finger in the face of the people like Mubarak, insists that "the armed forces will not allow anyone to seize power or override legitimate authority, except within the framework of legal and constitutional legitimacy.”

Thus ended the speech, which came less than 24 hours after prime minister Essam Sharaf’s short announcement, and confirmed that the ministry Sharaf heads is nothing more than a mask designed to hide the ugly face of military rule. But over the last six months the people have grown wise to this division of roles between the “good cop” of the Prime Minister and the “bad cop” of the representative of the Military Council.

The revolutionaries’ position is that, this time, there will be no going back. We will occupy the streets until the demands of the revolution are met. This inevitably means justice for the martyrs who shed their blood in the squares of Egypt as the price of freedom. We will not settle for less than the fair and public trials of the criminals of Mubarak’s regime and the killers of the martyrs. We will not give up our demand social justice and human dignity through the implementation of a decent minimum wage, humane working conditions and an end to the slavery of fixed-term contracts.

We will defend our right to strike and occupy. These rights were not granted, but were won by the people through years of struggle in the street; years which had the bitter taste of arrests, torture and prosecutions. No law issued by the Military Council to criminalize strikes and occupations, and no punishments it imposes can take this right away from the free people.

The military tribunals which steal years from the lives of our young people should have been reserved first for the deposed president in his capacity as former head of the armed forces, rather than enjoying the luxury of a civilian trial. Instead he is protected by the Military Council, which one time postpones the court date under the pretence he is ill, and another spreads rumours of Mubarak’s impending death.

We are not “questioning the ongoing process”, rather we are announcing that the process is slow and compromised in order to protect the killer police officers from justice. We are telling the world that ten thousand of the children of this country are locked up in military prisons after suffering the worst tortures. We know that the system is making the maximum effort to stop the people from regaining the wealth which was looted from them over the decades. We know that only revolutionaries are brought before the military tribunals, while the killers enjoy trials in the civilian courts, with release on bail between sessions.

We are not “spreading false rumours” but spreading the truth that you are trying to hide; the truth that poverty and repression, torture and detention, are still everywhere after 25 January, just as they were before. We have only exchanged the state jails for military prisons, gained the military prosecutor in place of the state security prosecutor, swapped the military tribunals for the exceptional courts.

The Emergency Laws were not enough for our military rulers: they added new laws criminalising strikes and occupations in an attempt to clamp down on Egyptians’ freedoms. The budget which the government promised us would be fair turned out to consist of cuts in spending on health, education and old age in order to fund the Ministry of the Interior and the Army.

The people’s interests are not “narrow”. The demands for a loaf of bread, for health care, education, housing fit for human beings, freedom of expression, the right to work and the achievement of justice are at the heart of the demands of the revolution. They do not compare to the narrow self-interest of businessmen and their associates, who, not content with plundering the people’s wealth. These people are terrified by the falling stock market, but unmoved by the blood of 1,200 martyrs or the fact that half the population live below the poverty line… or that young people are losing years of their lives in prison. All they care about is that their bank accounts are still swelling and that they continue to drain the blood and sweat of the workers for as little pay as possible.

Finally, revolutionaries do not “seize power”: it is theirs by right. This country should be governed by those who shed their blood for it. If anyone has “seized power”, it is the Military Council and its supporters who were asked by no-one to rule the country, but whole stole – or tried to steal – the revolution by force, taking advantage of the people’s euphoria over the overthrow of the dictator.

It seems as if the one who is shaking his finger and threatening the revolutionaries does not think they understand what it means to lose their children, not on the field of battle with a foreign enemy, but on the soil of their homeland, at the hands of police officers whose salaries were paid by their own taxes.

He does not understand what happened on the 25th of January. On that day the people of Egypt rose up, determined never again to be enslaved, inherited or exploited. On the 25th of January the Egyptian people regained their sense of dignity and confidence that they could overthrow the symbols of dictatorship. The head fell, leaving the corrupt body behind. The people swore they would not stop before the downfall of the regime: if not today, then tomorrow.

Glory to the martyrs Victory to the revolution Power to the people

The Revolutionary Socialists
12 July 2011

From http://socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=25418

More on the Honduran Resistance and Imperialism

Todd Gordon and Jeff Webber have written a second article on the current situation in Honduras after the return of former president Zelaya, looking at the Canadian connection: "The Cartagena Accord: A Step Forward for Canada in Honduras." Read it here.

In their July 6 article, "From Cartagena to Tegucigalpa: Imperialism and the Future of the Honduran Resistance," they wrote "Just over a month ago, on May 22, 2011, the Cartagena Accord was signed by the Venezuelan, Colombian, and Honduran governments. The event facilitated the return of ousted Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya (also a signatory to the Accord), to Tegucigalpa on May 28, and the readmission of Honduras into the Organization of American States (OAS) on June 1...the Cartagena Accord is best understood as a blow to the Honduran Resistance, one that is likely to undermine efforts to continue building a grassroots movement genuinely capable of challenging political and economic power in the country. At the same time, there is no reason to believe that the accord will do anything to redress the systematic violations of human rights that have persisted since the coup. Even worse, it is likely to cast a democratic veneer over these atrocities, á la Colombia."  Read the whole article here.

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn Case: "You Have to Be the Perfect Victim" (Updated)

"Prosecutors will likely drop felony charges against DSK because they’re worried that the woman once described as an unassuming hardworking young Muslim widow will make a poor witness." Writing on the Colorlines website, Akiba Solomon looks at why the New York hotel worker who alleges that she was sexually assaulted by the former head of the IMF is supposedly no longer credible -- and what that says about who gets to be believed in a racist and sexist capitalist society.

Heather Mallick has also published an article in the Toronto Star which makes a similar argument and includes specific details about the evidence of rape in this case.

Articles on the Portuguese Resistance

Two pieces worth reading about the Portuguese resistance against austerity:

1) The Dispirited Level by Luís Bernardo

2) Resistance in Portugal: Developments and Mobilisations by Helena Romão

Gaza Freedom Flotilla Update

Here is an article with the latest update on the Canadian boat in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2011/07/2011741529521330.html

Also for live up to the minute updates, follow these Twitter accounts:

@CanadaBoatGaza

@DylanPenner

@ibnezra

@Jleerankin

@kissmykishkas

Also be sure to keep track of the Twitter hashtag #flotilla2

 

Greece in Struggle against Capitalist Austerity

Two useful websites where articles continue to appear in English:

Greek Left Review

Articles on Greece (many by members of the Greek socialist group DEA, part of the radical SYRIZA coalition) on socialistworker.org

The Resistance in Honduras Two Years After the Coup

Read an interview with Bertha Cáceres, General Coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (which is part the National Front of Popular Resistance formed by the mass movement in response to the Honduran coup of June 28, 2009), here.

Was CUPW Defeat Inevitable?

by Gene McGuckin

Trade unionists across Canada should feel shame in the wake of the Canadian Union of  Postal Workers' totally predictable crushing defeat by the jubilant Harpies ("The Conservative benches erupted in cheers and backslapping as the final vote was held Saturday night"--Winnipeg Free Press) .

And we should finally feel a cold shiver of fear.

Because, with tragic historical symmetry, the posties return to work signals not only a crippling setback for the union that was key to winning the right to strike for federal public sector workers--through defiance of unjust laws. It also signals the effective abolition of that right.

Provincial public sector workers are staring at their own short-term-to-medium-term futures.

Private sector workers will be close behind. The Harpies and their ilk have toyed for decades with the idea of using strike-breaking legislation in key industrial and resource-extraction sectors with the rationale that they are "essential" to the economy.

So, why are we in this situation?

If he were given the historical background, my five-year-old grandson would have known a year ago (or earlier) that a Harpy majority in Ottawa would mean all-out war on unions.

Months ago we all knew that CUPW was the first big battle (no offense to the equally abandoned CAW members). And we prepared by doing nothing.

CUPW, despite its heroic history, could not have won this battle by itself through defiance of Bill C-6. As its National Executive Board explained in their unanimous decision to capitulate, the $1,000-a-day fines to defiant members would have destroyed the union.

Much oohing and aahing was dutifully directed at the 58-hour filibuster of C-6 by the officially and loyally oppositional NDP. But even my unborn great-grandchildren would know that CUPW received absolutely zero game-changing reinforcement from this charming bit of parliamentary theatre masquerading as democracy.

So then, there was nothing we could do, right?

Unless we gave a moment's thought to why trade unions came into existence and how they achieved a durable existence, to the very meaning of "union": individual workers and small groups of working people organized to fight powerful enemies by joining together in bigger groups. 

So, given our universal foreknowledge about the fight CUPW would face and the stakes involved, why did we trade unionists not unite across this country--and not just to send letters to the editor, cheer on the NDP, and take donuts and sentiments of solidarity to the posties' picket lines?

Why did we not prepare millions of union members across the continent with discussions in locals, labour councils, and labour federations? In news letters and at support rallies? Why did we not unite--as BC unionists did in 1982 to support telephone workers--by holding escalating regional general work stoppages across the continent?

What an impact the NDP filibuster would have had with that going on outside the hallowed halls of Harpyland.

Why were we not willing and able to carry the fight, if necessary, to the point of a national general strike?

And why do our labour leaders continue to ignore this option and quash any discussion of it when it arises among the members? Their alternative, their next-year-in-Jerusalem quest to elect the NDP to national government, is not going to happen. And the second-best elevation of the party (temporarily) to official, loyal opposition, has graphically demonstrated its shortcomings in this battle.

"Union" means nothing if we continue to avoid "uniting" to fight back against our attackers. It would be far better to change this pattern earlier rather than later--when it might no longer matter.

Gene McGuckin is a retired BC paperworker

Greece in Crisis and the Rise of the Indignant

"The Greek radical Left is facing an enormous challenge. For the first time the combination of economic, social and political crisis, with the opening of an insurrectionary cycle of escalating social and political contention, opens up again the possibility of radical social and political change." Read all of Panagiotis Sotiris's article here.

Listen to the recording of a panel discussion in London about the movements in Spain, Greece and beyond here.

More on the Crisis in Greece

The "bailout" package that the Greek government is negotiating with the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank will require, as Costas Lapavitsas explains, more "wage and pension cuts, perhaps 150,000 lost jobs in the civil service, more taxes, and sweeping privatisation. And what is likely to happen if the country accepts this? By the calculations of the troika, in 2015 sovereign debt will be 160% of GDP, servicing the debt will cost 10% of GDP, and the government deficit will be 8% of GDP. In short, Greece will still be bankrupt.What, then, is the point of the fresh bailout ? The answer is rescuing international bondholders and buying time for banks." Read his article here.

Alex Callinicos looks at the divisions in the European ruling classes about the terms of the loan to Greece here.

This documentary has been a hit in Greece: Debtocracy.

 

 

 

Support the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

The ships of Freedom Flotilla II Stay Human will be attempting to reach Gaza with humanitarian aid, defying Israel's blockade and the opposition of the US, Canadian and a number of other governments. Check the websites of the Flotilla and the participating Canadian ship, Tahrir, for more including gatherings in Canada and Quebec in support of the flotilla.

http://www.freedomflotilla.eu/

http://www.tahrir.ca/

 

"The protests in Greece concern all of you directly" (updated)

An interesting blog post about the situation in Greece that skewers media myths about the country is here, and for some analysis of how the crisis reached this point, see here.

Added June 21: an article, "Society-wide Anger," from Red Pepper and "What's at stake in Greece?" by a Greek socialist.

Greece on the Brink

An article and two video interviews about the crisis in Greece:

Greece Reaches the Brink, by Eric Ruder

Interview with Leo Panitch

Interview with Michael Spourdalakis

 

 

Resolution in Support of Canada Post and Air Canada Workers

The following resolution has been passed by the labour council in Fredericton:


NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION IN SUPPORT OF CUPW LOCKED OUT WORKERS

Whereas the Harper Government is waging a full-out attack on workers' rights in Canada by implementing back-to-work legislation to end labour disputes; by abolishing defined-benefit pensions; by driving down wages; by cutting back sick-time benefits; and by rolling back women's rights, etc; and

Whereas the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is now under a nationwide lock-out, and are facing back-to-work legislation; and

Whereas the Canadian Auto Workers are on strike and facing back-to-work legislation;

Be it resolved that a National Day of Action of all Unions be organized immediately in communities to fight back in solidarity with the striking and locked-out unions to end Harper's attacks;

Be it further resolved that the New Brunswick Federation of Labour immediately call on all affiliates to support and participate in the National Day of Action;

Be it further resolved that New Brunswick Federation of Labour call on the CLC and all CLC affiliated unions to support and participate in the National Day of Action;

Be it further resolved that the National Day of Action be no later than June 23, 2011;


Submitted by: The Fredericton District Labour Council

Crisis in Greece

In Greece, as the PASOK (Greece's NDP) government is in crisis as it tries to push through another massive set of austerity measures demanded by international capital, many people have responded with assemblies in occupied public squares, mass protests and strikes. In Athens,"thousands of riot cops with batons, tear gas and water cannons have been fighting with the mainstream of the protest in Syntagma Square in an effort to break it up. And the protesters have held their ground." Read today's post (with links) at Lenin's Tomb and visit the useful site Greek Left Review.

Support locked out postal workers!

Show your support for postal workers by sending a message to Canada Post's CEO here, by heading down to the picket line at the Canada Post site nearest you, and by explaining to coworkers, friends, family and others that federal back to work legislation to end this dispute should be opposed because it would be designed to help extract concessions (like lower wages for new hires) from workers -- just like the legislation now threatened against Air Canada strikers.

 

Interview with Jeff Webber on Bolivia

 

A useful and informative interview with Jeff Webber on Bolivia's grassroots social movements via Against the Grain.

Radical Democracy and Popular Power

 

David McNally's excellent talk in Ottawa about 'Radical Democracy and Popular Power: Thinking About New Socialisms for the 21st Century'.