North Dakota Fascism – A Wake-Up Call?

Bleakness abounds. Politicians with considerable power turn away. Mammon rules with asymptotically growing crudity, cruelty and excess, even without Trump in “power.” No big surprise that American “democracy” is a crock if one’s eyes are truly open to HRC’s portrayal by Wikileaks. We have learned nothing from the fascism of the past and, ironically, we minions who have benefitted from neocolonial atrocities committed upon others around the globe for over a century will, in turn, be ground under.

So wrong on so many levels.

And, President-Elect Trump, the idea of Greatness in the old-fashioned, Roman sense of economic growth and world dominance, is meaningless. In a finite biosphere, growth, as we have known it, is unsustainable. Get over it.

It is time for a Damascene Conversion.

True greatness Continue reading “North Dakota Fascism – A Wake-Up Call?”

Canaries vs Cats

The Greeks, the Brexiters and, now, millions of Indian workers have taken to the streets.

Coal mine canaries: some dying, some chirping loudly.

Will they stir us slumbering, Trans-Atlantic couch potatoes into action or will the fat cats prevail?

http://in.reuters.com/article/india-strike-idINKCN1180UK?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/tens-millions-worlds-biggest-strike-india-battle-higher-wages-narendra-modi-a7224061.html

And from an ever-inspiring source:

https://electricinthedesert.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/biggest-strike-in-world-india-engulfed-in-red-banners-as-workers-strike-back/

Thank, you, Claire.

The #TPP: A Disgrace of Planetary Proportions

imageToday is a key day in the negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Japan is going home on Monday. I hope that it does not pass.

This is a quick summary of some stuff I tweeted today in response to a tweet by a concerned @inky_mark that links to a Globe and Mail article about the now or never aspect of this trade deal.

The Globe and Mail falsely holds up #TPP as vital to Canada’s future trade and growth.

What the Globe doesn’t say is that the TPP is anti-CBC, anti small farms, anti Canada Post, anti public utilities and any vital national service that is publicly funded and not “profitable.”

Wikileaks has exposed the TPP as a “backdoor to privatization” of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE’s).

The TPP would be an impregnable legal fortress defending the unsustainable, planet-killing growth of unfettered capitalism. A vehicle for corporations to sue countries for enacting laws that protect the environment or the marginalized if these laws impact the sacred “God-given” rights of multinational corporations (MNC’s).

In their otherwise useful article, the Globe and Mail deceives by omission as usual. It has shed light on some of the details, but has left out the dangerous points I raise above.

Then there is the overall picture:

In essence the TPP, led principally by U.S. corporations, including the beneficiaries of its obscene war machine, is America’s latest attempt to isolate China, Europe and BRICS Nations. It ignores issues of environmental sustainability. By replacing publicly-funded institutions with more expensive private corporations it wages a class war against the middle class and the planet’s poor. It will take us back to poverty, sickness and, ultimately, serfdom.

Finally, I fear, this competition about power and scarcity will take us into a military WWIII.

Love of Home and Books With Stained Pages

This is daydreaming and not really a book review, but I’m now reading Helen Oyeyemi and scanning Naomi Klein’s latest tome now and I just listened to a podcast interview of the Peruvian-born novelist, Daniel Alarcon, in which there was considerable discussion of the violence and corruption in Peru between the early 1980’s and early 1990’s (Shining Path and repressive regimes being the major killers). His parents are physicians who sought opportunity in the US early on before the “troubles.” Alarcon writes (in English) figuratively about Peru – and the US also comes under the umbrella of his allegory.

Back to the books:

First: The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi. With interruptions. It has been slow to get into. It is a library borrowing that has evidence of more than one spill of brownish liquid. Notes are helpful because I do not retain character names and details easily. Never have, but it gets worse as I approach my 70th birthday. It is about two related characters:

1. A young woman living in London named Maja whose father, a university prof,  left Cuba under Fidel Castro, having apparently (it’s complex, and I’m not finished) become tired of the thought police looking over his shoulder. Her mother, a Santero born also in Cuba with a long ancestral lineage from Nigeria’s  Yoruba-centred Santeria religion, frustrates her husband with her altar and devotions that he considers superstitious. Maja likes to sing and her observations are becoming quite wonderful.

2. The second character is a Yoruban goddess, Yemaya (Aya) who lives in a magical “Opposite House” that has one door in Lagos and one in London. I’m currently two thirds through this book and loving it. I can understand the stained pages – evidence of a book that cannot be put down even while eating…  or a cookbook… in both cases loved. Maybe I will seek out similarly abused books deliberately in the future. I’m reminded of a fabulous song that made #1 in 1944 called You Always Hurt The One You Love by the Mills Brothers.

Second: This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. This 2014 book I’ve just begun. I’m familiar with many issues in it, so I’m just scanning quickly and highlighting names and key words here and there. Klein’s conscientious footnotes cover almost 60 pages. A great reference for any activist. Continue reading “Love of Home and Books With Stained Pages”

A Way With Words

“The days of the moneylender have arrived, and the days of the swaggering privateer; banker sits down with banker, and kings are their waiting boys.”

The above insight from the reflection of Thomas Cromwell on the new type of power in 16th C. Europe. Another surprise from the Booker Prize winning Hilary Mantel. I laughed out loud when I saw this on page 142 of Bring Up The Bodies. Cromwell is thinking that, despite his low birth and the repeated, jealous insults of the nobility in Henry’s court, he is the second most powerful man in England next to the king, and, perhaps, the most influential.
That from December, 1536.

Has the dominion of the banks over all types of planetary power, at its apex in this scary 21st Century, been growing ever since then?

Mantel won the Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, Volume I of her planned trilogy on the life and times of the powerful Cromwell. She won a second Booker for this one, Volume II, in 2012. Will her last in this series, due in 2015, win an incredible hat trick?

A long-time writer of immense taste, imagination and skill, her sprinkling of erudite LOL moments of pithy surprise throughout these works only compounds this reader’s delight.

Panem et Circenses

Joe Canuck's Present Distractions
Joe Canuck’s Present Distractions Surrounded By “Background Noise”

T’was ever thus. When the Olympics end, there’ll be plenty of other circuses. Methinks, however, the bread will diminish…

By the way, feel free to substitute your own national mascot. Joe is mine.

Substitute Corporate Personhood (or the 85 richest men) for Rome.

Will Emperor Harper call an election if Canada continues to do well?? Probably not, he’s made such a dog’s breakfast out of the last couple of years. But I bet his pollsters are busy and his fraudsters are having their hearts shrunk …

Pete Seeger, May We Be Worthy

Pete Seeger was a huge influence on the 20th century struggle for justice and peace. He epitomized the values of the left and fought for trade unions and against racism at a time when people got killed for taking a stand. He mobilized a successful movement to clean up his beloved Hudson River. Our middle class owes its present numbers to people like Pete who risked much to fight for a living wage for workers. He was a young man during the Great Depression and rode the rails with the hoboes. He sang with and shared the values of the iconic artists who opposed the excesses of “Daddy Warbucks” type capitalists, wars like the Vietnam War, and the racist Jim Crow laws.

He was a beacon of ongoing hope even while, in recent decades, he watched the middle class shrink and inequality grow as the corporations, given more and more power, have destroyed what he and his contemporaries had fought and even died to gain.

History, I fear, may have to record Pete Seeger’s time as the highest period in human evolution. The apex. It was a time of material and moral progress from the thirties to the seventies, as the period during which humanity, given the leisure to reflect and confronted by committed young people, began to become aware of, and to seek, a higher ethical way. We still hold some of these values, but our democracies have been reduced to shams by corporate interests running amok.

Our young people no longer even remember how their standard of living was earned with the blood and guts of those in Seeger’s tradition. Those who hold the last of the secure jobs are now isolated and portrayed as outliers, lazy and unjustly privileged. Good jobs stand out and those who hold them are objects of jealousy and ridicule.

Small wonder, when the media are overwhelmingly part of the established right and owned by the fewer and fewer, richer and richer, rich.

It saddens me to think that the world for which Pete Seeger lived and fought is now surrounded and besieged by interests whose sinister control is, all too quickly, becoming insurmountable. One of my favorite Seeger songs:

If I Had A Hammer

Pete Seeger, R.I.P. Here’s hoping you can find a hammer where you are now. Anyway, it’s now the fight of us who are left behind. May we find leaders like you to guide us through the 21st century. May we not break faith with you. May we be worthy.

*********

 

On Fidel Castro

*********
Fidel Castro likes a good joke.
A friend sent me a 2010 Guardian article by Rory Carroll quoting Jeffrey Goldberg, a columnist for The Atlantic, in which Fidel reportedly said:
The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.
Here is Goldberg’s original article. The interpretation of what Castro meant by the crack was done by a third party present with Goldberg and Fidel. Others quoted in this and the Guardian article have added their own sauce to the mix.

Clearly Fidel’s necessarily autocratic, imperfect model has been seriously altered to deal with the decades-long US embargo. Castro’s creative genius in keeping Cuba afloat, with world-leading stats on literacy and infant survival, in the face of this assault, and others of a patently criminal nature, is close to miraculous.

All it proves is that no country in Uncle Sam’s back yard is permitted to chart its own course without crippling interference. You, kind reader, and I could both come up with a litany of less successful Pan-American attempts from Allende to Zapatista.

As I have said before, for me the telling comparison is to look at Haiti from the 1950’s to now vs Cuba during the same period. Haiti the US puppet vs Cuba the reckless maverick.

Corporation-dominated model vs state-dominated model?

In a perfect world I would prefer a cooperative, consensus-seeking road, but our current corporation-dominated, enforcement/bullying-dependent world is bound for catastrophe.  Monsanto… Nestlés… Bayer… Coca Cola… Halliburton… Shell… Lockheed……..

Waaaayyyy too much power, with no morality but the bottom line.

P.S. I love Cuba. On our second visit, in 2010, we visited several places outside the typical Havana/Varadero. We visited Havana, Trinidad, Bayamo, Santiago de Cuba, and Baracoa by public bus. We stayed in peoples’ homes – people who helped us in many ways. We went dancing six times. Here is my reflection after that visit.

P.P.S. A quick appraisal of anything Fidel has said recently must be taken with many grains of NaCl. Proof exists in this reflection in 2013 in the party newspaper, Granma, where he states that humans have been around for 230 million years. A tall tale if ever there was one. We’re closer to 2 million years, so the venerable Fidel is off by a factor of about 100 times. Nobody’s perfect.

Markets Don’t Like A Coalition Government? Awww…

Listening to the CBC radio news today about the crisis in Europe over the Italian election results, the statement was made:

Markets don’t like a coalition.

Hey, that’s one more reason for me to like a coalition. Wish we had one of those instead of a mogul megalomaniac running a one-man show in Ottawa.

By the way, did you notice that markets are now personified. They have “likes” and “dislikes.”

Seeing as corporations have corporate personhood – all the rights, and more, of a human being (plus tons of power – and immortality to boot), I guess it was only a matter of time until the Markets became persons, too.

Toronto’s G20 – The Thoughtful Issues – Not The Stuff Everybody Saw on TV

A major columnist got my dander up this week, precipitating a reblog of a post I published on my old site on June 29th, 2010.

Here goes…

First they pass a secret law that suspends civil rights. Then they disregard the law’s boundary (5 m from the fence) and detain, question and search people anywhere they like in downtown Toronto. (I saw this happen on the protest Saturday at Queens Park Subway Station at 11:30 AM, before any trouble started). Then they refuse to give their badge numbers, taunt innocent people, rough them up, and put them in cages like the terrorists, and the collateral innocent,  in Guantanamo. The protests should continue until Harper, McGuinty and Blair/Fantino resign. Next step, torture? Good grief!

G20 Protest – June 26, 2010

On the Friday night before the Saturday G-20 protest a major rally was held at Massey Hall in Toronto that included the following speakers: Dr. Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, Pablo Solon, Clayton Thomas-Muller, John Hilary and Leo Gerard. It was called Shout Out For Justice and was live-streamed by rabble.ca. I am unaware of any podcast or transcript available, but the ideas were insightful and plentiful. I list about 33 of them below.

On The Protest Itself: We revere Ghandi for standing up to oppression and opposing unjust laws. Modern activists are mocked and despised, Continue reading “Toronto’s G20 – The Thoughtful Issues – Not The Stuff Everybody Saw on TV”