A ‘junta’ in power in Kyiv? Comment on James Petras article on Ukraine

By Roger Annis, Dec 16, 2014

James Petras distinguishes himself in a recent article on Ukraine by rejecting the wrong-headed theories prevalent on the political left that the driving force of events in Ukraine is a ‘Russian aggression’ or a fight between ‘two imperialisms’ for control of the country. He calls it as it is in an article last month, All out war in Ukraine: NATO’s ‘Final Offensive’–we are seeing in Ukraine a continuation of NATO’s historic drive to weaken and isolate Russia, now in tandem with the neo-conservative government that came to power in Kyiv in February of this year. The Kyiv government is making a sharp turn to association with austerity Europe and the International Monetary Fund, with devastating consequences for the majority of the country’s population.

Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, left, in Belgium on Dec. 15, with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, photo by AP

Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, left, in Belgium on Dec. 15, with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, photo by AP

I disagree with Petras’ description of the government in Kyiv as a ‘junta’. I have debated this same issue with others.

Ukraine is in the midst of a full-out war in the east launched by Kyiv nine months ago. Right-wing nationalism is ascendant. But at the same time, national elections have taken place twice this year in which large sections of the population in central and western Ukraine participated at high levels. So the political situation is more difficult and complex than the term ‘junta’ would suggest. » Read more..

More than 125,000 demonstrate against austerity in Montreal and Quebec City on Nov. 29

Statement by the Collectif refusons l’austerité (Say No to Austerity Coalition), Dec. 2, 2014

Anti-austerity march in Montreal Nov 29, 2014, photo by Cece Zhang, McGill Tribune

Anti-austerity march in Montreal Nov 29, 2014, photo by Cece Zhang, McGill Tribune

The following statement was translated from the original French to English and published on Rabble.ca on Dec. 16. The Collectif refusons l’austerité, includes Quebec’s trade union central, student organizations and many civil society groups. Pour lire en français.

On November 29, more than 125,000 loudly chanting people declared that they reject the Couillard government’s austerity measures at a huge demonstration organized by civil society groups, student associations and trade unions. More than 25,000 people in Quebec and more than 100,000 in Montreal made it clear to the government that it has to stop turning a deaf ear to their message: the public does not agree with dismantling the Quebec state to sacrifice it on the altar of austerity.  » Read more..

The propaganda war over Crimea’s break from Ukraine

The Propaganda War Over Crimea’s Break From Ukraine

By Roger Annis, first published on Truthout, Dec. 10, 2014

Meeting of defense ministers at NATO summit meeting in Wales, summer 2014, photo by NATO Summit Wales

Meeting of defense ministers at NATO summit meeting in Wales, summer 2014, photo by NATO Summit Wales

In the propaganda campaign being waged by the NATO countries and the government of Ukraine against Russia and in support of Kiev’s war in the east of the country, the events in Crimea of the past nine months occupy a pivotal place.

The secession from Ukraine that followed the March 16 referendum vote in Crimea is the number one pretext to justify the war as well as NATO’s rising aggression in Eastern Europe.

NATO began an eastward expansion 25 years ago at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has incorporated 11 new member countries (including eastern Germany) – 13 if Croatia and Albania are counted. » Read more..

More delays and “stickhandling” by Ontario gov’t over public pension improvements

By Roger Annis, Dec. 10, 2014

BC Premier Christy Clark and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, meeting in Toronto in December, photo by Canadian Press

BC Premier Christy Clark and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, meeting in Toronto in December, photo by Canadian Press

Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom says the Ontario Liberal government elected on June 5 of this year is “stickhandling” around its election promise to create a pension plan to supplement the national Canada Pension Plan that the federal Conservatives are refusing to improve. Walkom says Premier Kathleen Wynne is “ragging the puck” on the issue, likely waiting until next year’s federal election in the hope that a different federal government will be elected and will make some kind of gesture to improve the CPP. » Read more..

Boom! North America’s explosive oil-by-rail problem

By Roger Annis, Dec. 9, 2014

Downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec at midnight on July 6, 2013, image from the Weather Channel-InsightClimate News documentary

Downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec on July 6, 2013, image from the Weather Channel documentary

‘It was apocalyptic. People running and screaming…At one moment I thought we would all explode.’–Resident of Lac Mégantic, Quebec on July 6, 2013

On July 6, 2013, a train carrying volatile crude oil from North Dakota exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec killing 47 people and incinerating the downtown. Since then, three oil trains have exploded in the United States, several others have lit up in Canada. There have also been a string of derailments of oil trains in which, thankfully, none of the wagons exploded.

Millions of barrels of oil are now routinely traversing the North American continent by rail to reach refineries in the U.S. and Canada, ocean shipping terminals and freshwater shipping terminals. The major rivers of the continent now transport oil that is delivered by rail or pipeline to shipping terminals and then placed on barges or tanker ships. These include the Hudson, Mississippi, Columbia and, most recently, St. Lawrence Rivers.

The Weather Channel and InsideClimate News have teamed up to investigate the problem of exploding railcars and they’ve produced Boom: North America’s Explosive Oil-by-Rail Problem. Reporters Marcus Stern and Sebastian Jones produced an extensive print documentary report, including reporting why federal regulations to protect the public have been stalled by the railroads and the oil industry. The report is accompanied by a ten-minute video documentary that summarizes some of the findings of the report. You can watch the video here:

A lengthier video report, 23 minutes, on the same subject was produced by Vice News and published on July 28, 2014. It’s titled ‘Bomb trains: The crude gamble of oil by rail‘ and you can watch it here:

See also the recent article, ‘Newly elected Toronto mayor says he wants oil trains out of his city‘ , by Roger Annis, Dec. 5, 2014.

The false economy of Canada’s plundering of its forest resource

By Roger Annis, Dec. 8, 2014

Forest damage by mountain pine beetle in interior British Columbia, NASA image

Forest damage by mountain pine beetle in interior British Columbia, NASA image

Climate change and environment writer Andrew Nikiforuk published an op-ed last month in the New York Times, on Nov. 17, which looked at a little-examined consequence of the Alberta tar sands–the destruction of forests in Alberta which the tar sands industry perpetrates as it tears up the earth to get at the ‘black gold’ below. Nikiforuk’s op-ed was titled, ‘A forest threatened by Keystone XL’, referring to that hotly-contested pipeline proposal that would deliver ever-more tar sands bitumen to upgraders and refineries in the southern U.S. » Read more..

Writer offers a revisionist view of the history of Russia and the Soviet Union

By Roger Annis, Dec. 6, 2014

Zbigniew Marcin Kowalewski, a writer and editor at the Polish edition of Le Monde, has written a revisionist essay on Russia and the Soviet Union that raises eyebrows because of the warm reception it is receiving from left wing outlets.

Anti-fascist partisan fighters in Soviet Ukraine during WW2, image from Wikipedia

Anti-fascist partisan fighters in Soviet Ukraine during WW2, image from Wikipedia

The essay is titled ‘Russian imperialism’ and is published in the November 2014 issue of International Viewpoint, the monthly print magazine and online journal of the Bureau of the Fourth International in Europe. The essay also appears on the website of the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign in the UK, a campaign which opposes the political autonomy and anti-austerity movement in eastern Ukraine (and is not to be confused with the UK campaign Solidarity Against the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine). » Read more..

Western media turns blind eye to shameful vote at UN on Nazism by U.S., Canada and Europe

By Roger Annis, published in Truthout, Dec. 5, 2014

General Assembly of the United Nations

General Assembly of the United Nations

A big yawn. And ‘delete’. That’s how editors at the world’s mainstream media reacted to the news that Canada, the U.S. and Ukraine voted against a resolution at the United Nations on Nov. 21 committing the member countries of the world body to combat racism and xenophobia in all its forms.

These were the only three countries to vote ‘no’. Fifty five countries abstained, including the member countries of the European Union as well as Australia and New Zealand. (The full list of votes by country is here.) » Read more..

Newly elected Toronto mayor says he wants oil trains out of his city

​By Roger Annis, Dec. 5, 2014

Oil train wagonThe Toronto Star has a front page story today saying newly elected  mayor John Tory wants trains carrying oil and other dangerous cargos through his city to be rerouted through less populated areas. Pretty big news, even if the conservative mayor is an unlikely candidate to carry this fight very far. Indeed, the Star says the mayor was “unavailable” for follow-up comment after delivering his one-off pronouncement on the matter. » Read more..

Devastating article by Patrick Smith in Salon.com against propaganda war over Ukraine

Dec 4, 2014

Hello ‘A Socialist in Canada’ reader:

Shelling of Horlivka, Ukraine on July 27, 2014, photo Igor Kovalenko, EPA

Shelling of Horlivka, Ukraine on July 27, 2014, photo Igor Kovalenko, EPA

Veteran U.S. journalist Patrick L Smith has written a devastating article in Salon.com on Dec. 3 which reviews the U.S. mainstream news lies and misrepresentations during this past year about the situation in Ukraine, in particular about the war (so-called anti-terrorist operation) launched by the Kyiv government in April. His article is titled, ‘New York Times propagandists exposed: Finally, the truth about Ukraine and Putin emerges‘. » Read more..