EDWISE 

EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT

Blog

financial exposure

Posted on March 21, 2020 at 6:44 PM Comments comments (14)
DON'T LET ANYONE SAY THAT THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS THE CAUSE OF ECONOMIC CRISIS! The global economy has been in perpetual crisis and headed for a total failure by the fall of 2019.

Signs of collapse at end of 2019
-A string of mass layoffs and bankruptcies occurred in the corporate world as of October 2019.
-Most people do not have sufficient savings for an emergency situation or a short period without income; they are living paycheque to paycheque. That is why many people do not have means to pay rent etc. after just two weeks of unemployment/ lack of business revenue.
-Consumer debt, many national debts and national state liabilities were already at an all-time high, most notably in the US and Western Europe societies. Too heavy a reliance on financial sector, especially with respect to borrowing/ lending.
-Middle class' debt was exploding, with many of them losing homes in Germany, US, Australia and elsewhere.
-inflation, especially in housing market, which has been out of control
-More displaced and homeless people, with movements to survive by nomadic lifestyle, tiny houses, 
-Airlines have been having a hard time of it, regardless of pandemic conditions.
-Banks have been on the brink of failing in US and Europe and 4 major banks in China fell. Millions are not making payments on mortgages and other loans.
-Extremely uneven development with misaligned priorities, giving petroleum, weapons, luxury items, leisure IT priority over food, health and housing.

This situation of the pandemic exposes the weaknesses of the economy and social structure. Ironically, steps being taken to cope with the pandemic show how easy it is to mobilize socially, financially and industrially for the social good; for example, aerospace companies, which mostly serve military and commercial needs, are starting to make health and nutrition products. Same for automobile manufacturers. 

We also see how many who have been relying a lot on restaurants could be cooking at home. This change requires reconfiguration of the food supply and servicing.

Another favourable outcome is that it is easy to have many people work from home, which cuts down on traffic, fossil fuel usage and air pollution. Have you noticed how much lower gasoline prices are at the pumps?--for example, I saw one service station offering self-served gasoline at the pumps for $1.06, the lowest price I have seen in decades.

crisis

Posted on March 18, 2020 at 10:32 PM Comments comments (21)
Went to food stores today for the first time in a week. Amazed to find shelves in a major supermarket EMPTY. Absence of most bread, pasta, fresh meat and poultry, sandwich meat and sausages, frozen food, tinned food and crackers. Wow!

Is it because of hoarding? I am thinking that may not be altogether correct. I would call it "stocking up" in the main. Another factor is all the people now staying in and eating at home who weren't doing so before.  How to account for all the people who normally frequent restaurants throughout the week who, upon receiving urgent calls to stay home from authorities, have taken to preparing meals at home? That would mean a lot more shoppers and a lot fewer restaurant-goers.

Regardless, I found smaller markets well stocked. Naturally, they are enjoying more customers at the moment. 

If there is a shortage, you would think it would be a blessing for overweight people, but it could be they are still indulging in bad habits.

Of course, there is concern for people with less means and support in these trying times. Some social organizations are calling for community and state action to make sure isolated people and homeless people have their necessities.  I was reading a message by a council of trade unions demanding measures to protect poor and working people, such as delaying mortgage payments, financial relief for those forced to stay home from work, and so on. I think they have already influenced the decision-makers, judging by the announcements made by administrations at all levels today: 4 banks are allowing for postponement of mortgage payments, tax authorities and allowing for delayed payments, courts are preventing evictions and firings in situations related to COVID-19, social services granting special benefits, etc.

What can we do at home, if not working to make a living? -blogging! and other writing. How about poems, short stories? Exercise indoors or perhaps outdoors. I for one, felt motivated to hike up the local mountain one day and go for a bike ride another. Was refreshing, despite the seasonal hayfever. Then there is reading. I have books here I have not finished. There are also plenty of internet sources.

You can also communicate with friends and family. Just had a phone call. That is another nice thing about this situation. Whereas people don't normally just call and chat, some are passing the tine at home by calling family and friends.


on economic sanctions

Posted on March 4, 2020 at 11:01 PM Comments comments (6)
END GENERAL ECONOMIC SANCTIONS NOW!
Statement for Global Days against Sanctions that Harm the People

Some solidarity and social justice organizations called for a global weekend of actions from March 13 to 15. The Venezuela Peace and Solidarity Committee of Vancouver (VPSC) joins in the actions against the blanket sanctions imposed by US imperialism and its allies that mostly aim to weaken states and movements of the people that stand up to imperialist interference, plunder and exploitation. Far from securing peace, human rights and economic development, they cause shortages of daily necessities and hardship to the working people. Also, they often rob a targeted state such as Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua and Venezuela of huge state revenues from international activities that could be employed to serve their people more.

Sanctions are causing suffering to Iranian, Venezuelan, North Korean, Nicaraguan, Cuban and other peoples. Today economic sanctions are a standardized form of economic warfare implemented by US imperialism against targeted states that stand in the way its exploitation and profits. They are part of its arsenal and are aggressive. Such sanctions are carried out despite widespread condemnation, as in the case of Cuba, for UN votes on the Cuban blockade have shown a vast majority of UN member states wish an end to the blockade. General economic sanctions punish entire populations. US sanctions on Venezuela and Nicaragua are illegal. Economic sanctions against North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran are cutting off basic supplies, blocking local commerce and trade and depriving the people, which has resulted in a lowered standard and held back development.

Although some political sanctions properly decided by international bodies and appropriately implemented might justifiably curb truly repressive regimes and reduce oppression, general economic sanctions destroy societies, intended to force them into submission by foreign powers.

When are sanctions justifiable? Take Israel, for example. It is a highly militarized state illegally occupying and colonizing Palestine. It inflicts terror and horror against civilian Palestine on a regular basis with the blessings of the US and its allies including Canada, France and Britain. However, Israel clearly commits crimes against humanity on a massive scale, with impunity. 
Concerned and justice-minded people around the world, however, participate in boycotts and divestment in solidarity with the Palestinian people. This campaign targets major corporations that sell arms and supplies to the Israeli war machine. Part of this campaign is the arms embargo, which advocates a stop to sales of arms and military contracts to Israel. It has had some success. Such is a worthwhile kind of sanction. The UN could do more; it could suspend membership. Other states could maintain diplomatic distance.

There are situations crying out for action against viciously repressive regimes, such as the Duterte regime of the Philippines that has continued an all-out war on the people. It regularly unleashes terror on communities who are struggling to survive acute poverty and defending the right to life and livelihood with peace and social justice. In the pretext of fighting communism, the state national police and armed forces, with the aid of the US, carry out extrajudicial killings of civilian community leaders, labour organizers, protesters, human rights defenders and journalists. Crimes against humanity are the norm in the Philippines. Still, countries including Canada carry on business as usual, awarding aid and trading with the corrupt and bloody-minded bureaucratic-capitalist and land-owning elite. Other states could stop such business dealings and refuse to sell arms. The US could pull its troops out of the region and stop training and supplying the regime. Such would be sanctions that would help the people of the Philippines. Also, other states could cooperate by maintaining diplomatic distance, in such a way as not to harm migrant Filipino workers. Again, here is a context in which a UN measure to suspend membership would be just. It is also a context in which support for the peace talks and the peoples’ demands for land, social and political reforms should be strongly insisted.

In Venezuela, food and household supplies are plentiful in the upscale urban districts. Perhaps to take advantage of the effects of the blockade and the expectation of shortages, prices have been jacked up astronomically. Medium and small-sized businesses have not been able to access some materials for production and sale, owing to high pricing or unavailability. There may be some withholding and hoarding of goods. In poorer areas, restaurants and shops have little to offer customers. Some Venezuelans have chosen to leave the country. Regional tourism is at a standstill. Fortunately, the pro-people government, with the assistance of benefactors and genuine humanitarian agencies such as the Red Cross, has a food program to deliver rations to those in real need. As well, it is assisting communities to spearhead local, micro-farming initiatives to create self-sustaining food sources. There are strategies of sharing and self-reliance in the communes. Where necessary, charities and churches dispense hot meals to school children and families. They solicit funds from foreigners so that they can pay for food and distribute it. It is amazing that the Bolivarian government under Chavez and subsequently by Maduro has been able to proceed with providing free transportation, education and healthcare as well as constructing houses under these conditions. It has worked hard to build understanding and make special deals with friendly states, so as to restore some trade. It could do so much more for the people if the billions of dollars of funds held abroad were released, and if billions of dollars in revenues from trade were flowing normally.

The VPSC demands an end to the illegal and cruel economic measures against the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan people imposed by the US aided by its friends such as Canada. Unfreeze the Venezuela state funds withheld abroad and return them to the government of Venezuela. End the blockades against Cuba and North Korea. End the general economic sanctions against Iran. Diplomatic and select trade sanctions against real oppressors who violate the rights of the people and pose real threats. Take a stand against imperialist aggression and domination in all its forms, military or economic or otherwise. Opt for negotiations as much as possible; no military invasions or coups. Canada, stop meddling!

Bolivia solidarity

Posted on February 22, 2020 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (32)
Solidarity for the people of Bolivia!

At the international, anti-imperialist conference held in Caracas on Jan. 24, Pres. Maduro announced a call for a global day of solidarity with the Bolivian people, citing February 25.

The Venezuela Peace and Solidarity Committee of Vancouver joins in expressing strong solidarity with the people of Bolivia. We deplore the recent coup that destroyed the advancement of Bolivian people's quality of life, independence and rights. We support the people's movement, especially that of the indigenous people, lead by the champion of workers', farmers' and indigenous peoples' rights, the unjustly ousted President Evo Morales. Desiring a return to the exploitation and plunder of Bolivian resources and people, US imperialism and its friends in the military and elite of Bolivia schemed against the people and their leader, Evo Morales. At the last national elections, they propagated rumours of election fraud in the countryside and spread doubt about the election results which showed Morales and his party as the victors. Their claims being hollow, it took the mobilization of reactionary and Right wing forces within the military to force President Morales out of the country and seize the rule from the people for the benefit of the upper classes and imperialism. We denounce this coup. We support efforts to counter this coup, bring the truth to light and restore the Bolivian people's independent democracy with Evo Morales back in the seat of state power.

Furthermore, we condemn the renegade group of right-wing states known as the Lima Group. We deplore their austerity measures, repression and terror against their peoples and selfish rule for personal profit. We especially denounce the Canadian state's role in facilitating counter-revolutionary strategy and supporting anti-people governments and policies throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Trudeau and company should stop assisting the Lima Group and refrain from meddling in and misrepresenting the facts about those regions.

nuclear power

Posted on February 6, 2020 at 9:41 PM Comments comments (7)
NUCLEAR POWER in the USA
 -a child of the US imperialist military-industrial complex; profits and service to corporations and the military come before people


Nuclear reactors are dangerous, however used, because of their potential for colossal explosions. For this reason, both nuclear weaponry and nuclear energy have been sharply criticized from the very beginning of the development of this technology. Objections to science being subordinated to both military and commercial interests abound. Nevertheless, nuclear armed weapons and nuclear power stations have proliferated.
 
Never mind trying to restrain the nuclear power industry, both weapons development and energy supply, there is even staunch resistance to safety regulations and disaster management. Why? First, nuclear technology is a huge and very lucrative industry. Profitable businesses maximize productivity by cutting corners on labour and tools. Second, the ruling powers desire nuclear weaponry as a form of defense of their power and status.
 
Much of contemporary technology was created in military laboratories before being commercialized, from computerization and communications, to chemical toxins and nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion was experimented with during World War 2 when the US air force caused hundreds of thousands of immediate and delayed human deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. German scientists at the behest of their Nazi masters may have started the development of nuclear weapons; this is the official reason why the US created the Atomic Commission and began the Manhattan Project under the supervision of physicist Dr. Oppenheimer and US Army Colonel Leslie R. Groves to achieve nuclear fusion and nuclear arms.
 
It is ironic that nuclear power was seen as a clean energy source as the environmental movement grew from the 1960s on. This became a key selling point. Plans to build nuclear power stations all over the US and in other countries were soon under way. There are currently 60 nuclear power stations with 98 nuclear reactors in 30 states in the USA. Has everything gone smoothly, without incident? Far from it, as everyone knows.
 
There have been three major nuclear power station accidents in the world. The first was the Three Mile Island station catastrophe in Pennsylvania. It happened in 1979 because of a failed water pump, which prevented cooling while causing so much hydraulic pressure that a pressure release valve malfunctioned as well. Reactor number two melted down and a radiation leak occurred. There were no directly resulting deaths or injuries.
 
The second nuclear power station disaster was Chernobyl in the Ukraine, USSR, in 1986 when explosions occurred due to a deliberate shutdown safety and emergency mechanisms for the purpose of safety improvement, ironically. There were 42 immediate and delayed deaths and thousands of people were forced to evacuate
 
The latest tragedy was the worst ever. About 100,000 people around the Fukushima Daiichi power station were forced to flee after an earthquake was followed by a devastating tsunami which flooded three reactors, causing a failure in their cores resulting in hydrogen explosions, and damaged a fourth in 2011. The surrounding waters and air were contaminated. By 2012, it was estimated that 573 people died in 13 municipalities.
 
Former Chairperson of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Gregory B. Jaczko, was one of the nuclear physicists who arrived on the Fukushima scene to assess the accident. In his 2019 book, Confessions of Rogue Nuclear Regulator, he explains the both the recalcitrance and hubris of nuclear power engineers who, prior to the Fukushima disaster, has believed that neither flooding nor hydrogen explosions in the cores were possible.
 
The occurrence of smaller accidents in the US had been compelling him to seek changes. For example, he tried to stop the use of parts made with Alloy 600, which had been identified as substandard since the 1980s. The leak at the David-Besse station was caused by inferior parts whose alloys could not withstand the chemical processes inside reactors, namely exposure to boric acid. Jacko’s three-year experience in the NRC taught him about the internal and external resistance to technical safety improvements and regulation. He made several efforts to enhance safety controls but was blocked and even punished and belittled for trying.  In sum, the NRC functions more to protect the industry, he states, than to ensure public safety.
 
Many citizens’ organizations have been advocating for restraint, technical safeguards and better emergency measures to address the possibility of nuclear accidents, organizations in the USA and around the globe. One concerned citizen in New Hampshire learned that regional evacuation plans would not protect persons with mobility problems. Moreover, local police officers confided that emergency personnel were not properly equipped to carry out existing emergency evacuations (Stephen Comley, Sr., unpublished manuscript entitled No Evacuation Possible). While butting heads with the state authorities and mainstream media to sound the alarm about the evacuation issues, he consulted engineers at a local nuclear power plant. That is when he learned of the continued use of counterfeit and substandard parts in the plant. Use of these faulty parts was widespread in nuclear plants around the country. Comley therefore created a non-profit, whistleblower protection organization, from which he gathered and spread information, much to the deep consternation and ire of the industry and its defenders among the political elite. For over 30 years, he has been ignored, ridiculed, persecuted and defamed for his honest and conscientious concern. He has suffered family conflict, social isolation, health setbacks for his trouble.
 
 
 After leaving the whistleblower organization in he hands of someone else, Stephen Comley, Sr., was dismayed when the new leader of this group failed to make any statement with respect to the Fukushima accident. It was his feelings for the victims of that accident that Comley joined the ILPS Peace Tour to Japan in 2014. He joined activists of the Asia Wide Campaign against US Domination and Aggression and others at the commemorative street action at Hiroshima memorial park and followed them to the ceremony at Nagasaki. It was then that he came to see the connection between the US military and the US nuclear power industry, he told us. Since then, he has also learned the value of grassroots organizing and found more allies among progressive groups and the alternative media.

Emergency Preparedness

Posted on January 15, 2020 at 1:29 PM Comments comments (7)
I have been aware that it is advisable to be prepared for disaster or loss of home, but I have not done much preparation other than having some extra preserved food (for about 3 days) and candles with a lighter on hand. Everyone should be better prepared.

I feel I have been lucky so far. I live in an earthquake zone where we get trmors all the time and are awaiting the big one. Weather has been getting more extreme as I have aged into the senior category. Power outages more likely, we have been without hydroelectric power for a few hours at a time twice in the past two years. I have narrowly escaped two house fires with abode and body intact in the past three years. (I only had a house insurance policy for one of those years.)  There are a lot of good reasons to be prepared for calamity Consequently, I have finally been planning for an emergency.

Here is the Red Cross list of things to put aside in case of emergency.

Vitals:
  • Water*
  • Food (non-perishable) and manual can opener if this includes cans*
  • Special needs such as medications, baby needs, extra glasses, etc. 
  • Important family documents (i.e. copies of birth and marriage certificates,passports, licenses, wills, land deeds and insurance)*
  • A copy of your emergency plan
  • Crank or battery-operated flashlight, with extra batteries*
  • Battery-operated or crank radio
  • Extra keys, for your house and car*
  • First aid kit*
  • Extra cash 
  • Personal hygiene items*
  • Pet food and pet medication N/A
  • Cell phone with extra charger or battery pack

Others:
  • Change of clothing and footwear for each person
  • Plastic sheeting*
  • Scissors and a pocket knife*
  • Whistle
  • Hand sanitizer*
  • Pet food and pet medication N/A
  • Garbage bags and twist ties
  • Toilet paper*
  • Multi-tool or basic tools (i.e. hammer, wrench, screwdriver etc.)*
  • Duct tape
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each member of your house hold*
  • Toys, games, books, deck of cards

*What I have so far prepared.

I hadn't thought of some of the items on the RC list. Duct tape, scissors and bags good and easy to get. I could put aside a few Synthroid pills, as I must take one each day. Yeah, book and other pastime activities would be desirable if hanging around for days. I thought about packaging some underwear and socks, but a full change would be good. I should look into getting a phone charger. Cash--yeah; I usually only have $20 to $40 around, but maybe I should put aside more. I guess I could buy a whistle. First, I'll see if the first aid kit I ordered contains one.

Beyond what Red Cross recommends, I have a lighter and lighter fuel. I also plan to have electrolyte solution and mineral tablets with vitamins. (Good for a scenario of dehydration or a period of starvation.) I have a tarp and rope for shelter. 

What food? One problem is expiration of preserved food. I guess I would take note of expiration dates and give expiring food away, then replace it. I am thinking of jerky, protein/ power bars, dried fruit, canned beans, crackers, peanut butter, tins of liquid meal replacement...

Where to keep it all? I think it should be easily reachable in my living quarters. Hard to get to it if locked in storage room. It should be packed up in portable waterproof boxes or bags. Of course, there may be no chance of reaching for all this stuff, and carrying it all out at the moment disaster strikes. At least I can be assured that I'd be ready in case of a lengthy loss of utilities or physical incapacity. I'd also be equipped to help others in need.




Letter to Canada

Posted on January 12, 2020 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (6)

ATTENTION:
Honourable François-Philippe Champagne
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada
 
Cc: Honourable Harjit Sajjan 
Minister of National Defence, Canada
 
Cc: Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
 
 
January 9, 2020
 
 
Re: The United States drone assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abd Mahdi al-Muhandis, along with eight others on January 3, 2020.
 
Ministers,
 
The United States drone assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abd Mahdi al-Muhandis, along with eight others, was clearly a war crime by any definition. It violated both Iraqi sovereignty and international law. These attacks provoked the Iranian and Iraqi states and inflamed international relations. Iran has retaliated by ejecting ballistic missiles to Irbil in the Kurdish territory and the Al-Asad base in Iraq. The world tensely looks on to see if full-scale war breaks out, a catastrophic war that would involve many nations and put millions of lives at risk. Restrictions on civilian airline carriers flying over the region is a war preparation. The intensified conflagration in Libya, with Turkey deciding to send troops to Tripoli in the face of Europe’s objections, could be understood as one repercussion of the US’ attack on January 3. International relations have flared up.

We are glad to see that Canadian leaders, European leaders and NATO, who apparently had no part in the US drone attack on January 3, are taking a conciliatory approach with Iran and calling for a cool-down. We welcome NATO’s decision to suspend the NATO mission in Iraq, which Canadian forces lead.  Further to that, the government of Iraq is understandably outraged at the US actions against Iranian forces on its soil, especially because of the cooperation between Iraq and Iran regarding mobilizations against ISIS terrorists on Iraq’s soil. We support Iraq’s desire to regain autonomy in its own affairs and its government’s resolution to get US troops out of Iraq.

The people in Iraq continue to suffer from the continuing conflict and chaos inside their country. The NATO forces are not helping; they are only causing more harm and complicating matters. We therefore call upon the Canadian government to withdraw its forces from Iraq. Moreover, we want NATO to end its mission in Iraq. The redeployment of some Canadian troops from Iraq to Kuwait is a good step. A total retreat to home bases in Canada would be ideal.
We also oppose any move to impose sanctions again on Iraq. In fact, we oppose all economic sanctions against states including Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea. Broad economic sanctions deprive the people of necessities, crippling the regional economies and causing further suffering. We call on the Canadian state to stop playing a part in the cruel sanctions against the Iranian people, and the economic punishments against the Venezuelan and Korean peoples.

We have been observing that the Canadian government has had its military forces become more involved in US military operations in many spots in the world. Its defence policy has been “peace-making” rather than “peace-keeping” for many years, and the Canadian military has been mobilized to engage more in conflict. We oppose this policy orientation. We call for a general distancing from US foreign policy and US military actions, and a peace-keeping orientation. Make Canada a factor for peace, not war. Reduce military spending and deployment.

Our main demands with this letter are for Canada to withdraw all its forces from Iraq permanently and bring them home. Secondly, support Iraq’s democratic decision to have US military forces leave the country. In addition, we want Canada to act to put a stop sanctions against the Iranian people. Finally, we strongly recommend that Canada bring all its troops home from the Middle East.

Yours truly,
The No War on Iran Coalition
Vancouver, British Columbia

 

Iran-Iraq-US crisis

Posted on January 7, 2020 at 4:22 PM Comments comments (6)
A global wave of opposition to the US imperialism’s latest act of terror and aggression washed through Iraq and throughout the Middle East, around Europe and in many cities in North America on January 4 and 5. Commission 4 of the ILPS salutes this staunch response and encourages more action to show solidarity for just peace and deter an outbreak of global or regional war in response. We applaud the Iraq government’s resolution to get US forces out of Iraq as we do NATO’s decision to suspend the NATO mission led by Canadian forces in Iraq. We are also pleased to see some Canadian troops are being relocated out of the hot zone. Finally, we support all the international calls for restraint to prevent a regional war which could well develop into a global war.
 
We provide the ILPS international office’s statement on this crisis here below.
 
[Issued by the Office of the Chairperson Len Cooper, Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS)
 4 January 2020]
 
The International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS) condemns United States imperialism’s latest act of aggression and war against Iran and Iraq. The murder of General Qasem Soleimani of Iran, on Iraq soil, represents an arrogant act of murder by the US government and a blatant violation of international law and Iraqi sovereignty by US imperialism. It is a direct attack on the workers and peoples of Iraq, Iran and the Middle East and a provocation, if not a declaration, of war that raises no less than the spectre of a new world war. 
 
This is the latest culmination of the US’s decades of efforts to impose its imperialist will on the Middle East and to force the Iranian government to bow down in submission to its dictates in order to further carry out plunder in the region. It is an attack on all peoples and governments of the world who are standing up for national sovereignty and self-determination against US imperialist dictates. 
 
Timed by US president Donald Trump to influence impeachment proceedings against him and the upcoming US elections, this attack is a declaration of war that did not receive US Congress’ approval. It is therefore illegal even by US imperialist laws, to use American poor and working-class youths as cannon fodder for a war that will serve only US imperialist interests and should hasten Trump’s downfall.
 
The ILPS fully supports the workers and people of the United States, Middle East, particularly of Iran and Iraq, and the world who are mobilizing and protesting against this latest act of US imperialist aggression.
 
The ILPS calls on all ILPS organs and supporters, and the workers and people of the world to immediately mobilize, organize and protest against this latest outrage by US imperialism in the Middle East.
 
The ILPS strongly supports the following calls:
 Stop the US war on Iran!                              US troops out of Iraq and the Middle East!  Prosecute Trump for yet another cowardly, illegal drone murder of a citizen of another country!    

Oppose US imperialist wars and aggression! Down with US imperialism!

Latin America solidarity

Posted on December 18, 2019 at 9:48 PM Comments comments (4)
I am active in just peace activism and anti-imperialist solidarity. One way I partake in this kind of activity is through my Just Peace Committee and its role in a local Venezuela solidarity committee.

I attended a huge conference for Latin American solidarity with the people against coup attempts, right wing resurgences, state repression, unjustified economic sanctions that hurt the people, militarization and the threat of military invasions. OUt of that conference came a declaration of solidarity against US-led imperialism and pledges to support particular struggles of people in Latin America and the Caribbean regions.

Taking this declaration home and reporting it to my "comrades", my local groups decided to support the declaration and the pledges for Latin American and Caribbean solidarity. Here is a summary I have taken from the notes of our latest meeting.

Latin America and Caribbean solidarity in the fight against imperialism.
 
On December 17, the VPSC adopted the stands of the Declaration and action plan of the Conference against imperialism and neo-liberalism held in Havana from November 1 to 3, 2019, which Barbara attended partly as a representative of VPSC. Bringing together Cuba solidarity, social and leftist groups from 94 counties, this conference affirmed the anti-imperialist analysis and the united anti-imperialist struggle. 1400 delegates devoted particular discussion to an understanding of US imperialism’s strategy of counter-revolution and plans to exploit and plunder Latin America and the Caribbean further. The US and its allies, including Canada, have stepped up its counter-revolutionary strategy to attack the Bolivarian, Cuban and Sandinista revolutions with
-military threats and militarization;
-greater support for the political Right
-schemes to divide the people and coup attempts
- misinformation and cover-ups
-cyber attacks
- diplomatic and economic barriers
-encouragement and support for state repression against progressive elements and other attacks on democracy
 
This Cuba conference pledged united support for
            -opposition to the Cuba blockade
            -the repatriation of Guantanamo Bay
            -the Bolivarian movement in Venezuela and the government lead by N. Maduro
            -opposition to the economic sanctions against Venezuela
            -the Sandinista government of Nicaragua
            -Evo Morales and the Bolivarian movement in Bolivia
            -democracy and a decent standard of living in Haiti
            -the repatriation of Puerto Rico
            -democracy and anti-neoliberal opposition in Chile
            - the democratic government of Argentina
            - the campaign to get Lula released

 

taking stock of 2019

Posted on December 16, 2019 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (6)
Just passed another birthday and the calendar year is closing. Time to review the year.

I always review my goals and see what I accomplished or changed. I refer to both short (1-year and 5-year) and long term (10 years).

What's more, I consider a few categories of life: finances, career, social, travel, health, activism.

FINANCES

I've had a steady income from self-employment and employment, working generally part-time, with a few relatively high-income months. My savings have remained frozen this year. However, they are set to mature in January, as planned, when I will have to decide what to do with the cash. Following through with a second goal, I have applied for my Canada Pension benefits, picking mid-2020 as the time to start receiving them. It is financially advantageous for me to claim them a little early. Tbirdly, I am able to reduce my taxes by virtue of my growing status as a self-employed citizen. As well, I am taking advantage of other senior programs. For example, I qualify for a housing subsidy and a discount applied to prescribed pharmaceuticals.

Furthermore,living in this province offers some financial advantages. Premiums for the provincial medical plan were halved this year. Members of this plan will not have to pay any premiums as of 2020. Their are transit and other concessions coming in the near future.

Last year I wrote about a dispute with the tax department, which was billing me for 10s of thousands of dollars. A series of my objections were ignored, but I was finally vindicated in the spring of this year. All taxes, fees, interest and penalties were canceled. I even received a small refund in the end.

I am developing a longer-term financial strategy with information coming available over time. Rather than purchasing a home by full retirement, which would have had to have been in a small rural community, it appears that my savings would best be used as partial income. I am contemplating having an annuity fund set up. It would dispense a small, pre-set amount each month for twenty years plus.

WORK

Two-thirds my income comes from self-employment. This represents an achievement of one of my five-year goals. I wanted the independence and control over my paid work. The arrangement also saves taxes because there are more deductions allowed as business expenses which employees of other companies cannot claim. It also has to do with the type of work I do. I am doing things I prefer over other types of tasks related to education and writing. I am tutoring children, teens and adults in a range of areas, from straight-forward beginner to intermediate English Language Learning, to study skills and preparation for college entry and entry tests. I teach writing extensively as well as vocabulary, reading and speaking. Occasionally, a student wants tutelage in French.

One of the things I do is provide evaluations of official English speaking tests that measure fluency and competency for work and study in English language environments. My rate of compensation for the testing climbed two levels this year.

I pretty much finished a book project, though I may have to do a little further editing in early 2020. I am thinking of a new writing project.

More importantly, my satisfaction has risen. I have a better handle on my schedule and geographical areas of work, as well on the types of work I do.

TRAVEL

I was surprised to find myself going on two voyages that were on my list of travel dreams. They were both tied to attendance at huge and important political gatherings. 

I thus fulfilled several wishes just in one three-week trip. After attending the activists' conference in late spring, which was one goal. I continued on my way by returning to Italy to explore it further (2nd goal), after which I returned to visit France (3rd goal), during which time I revisited an important place where I resided in France in my youth (4th goal). Everything came together--my schedule, the budget, the timing with the conference, the availability of lodgings and regional transportation in Europe. One decades-long dream came true! Despite the extreme heat, I reveled in the beauty of Torino and enjoyed the comforts of swapped, free-of-charge private housing. In France, I explored Lyon, which I had not seen before. I finally returned to a place that opened up my life and transformed me while I was in my early 20s. It restored and concretized my memories.I could see what had become of the place, which, I have to say, was a bit of disappointment as it has turned into a big tourist site. All the same, I felt the trip validated the experience and the life decisions I took as a result. Though little made sense to me back then, looking back it all comes together. I could see clearly how my life adds up today.

In September, I decided to embark upon the second trip after having received an invitation through a local organization in late July. I took this trip just before Halloween and it lasted just one week. It was a fantastic opportunity and colleagues needed someone to go represent them and use the event for networking and research. I had not been to Cuba in 17 years, when I participated in a social and political, group tour with folks from Vancouver. We sang, met trade unionists and got political lessons as we rolled from town to town, meeting to meeting in our coach bus. This time, I attended a huge gathering in the main conference center in Havana in the year of the 500th anniversary of Havana and the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. There were many of my comrades from Vancouver and across Canada, as well as my group's associates in Central America and elsewhere. We tackled the attacks on progress in Latin America and the Caribbean and pledged solidarity on many fronts, from the uprisings against neo-liberal policies in Chile to the demands for a decent standard of life and democracy in Haiti, from defense of regional revolutions to support for the movement for the independence of Puerto Rico. Many important politicians, popular leaders, and intellectuals were in attendance, including current and former state leaders! It was greater than what I had dreamed as a return to Cuba.

ACTIVISM

My biggest rewards of the travel in 2019 were the advances in my roles as an activist.The conference attached to the first voyage was an international assembly of a league of anti-imperialists groups to which I belong. I hadn't been to such a gathering in about 10 years, so it was a gain just to attend this last one. At that event, I found a way to boost my volunteer work in political causes as I had hoped. It had been one of my 5-year goals to increase my participation and responsibilities as an activist. Check! 

I wound up leading a commission workshop on peace when I stepped in to fill a vacant seat. It was successful, so we were able to keep our peace commission marching on by making plans and finding volunteers to coordinate it. I found myself in the leading coordinating role. It was owing to that position that I represented our league at the international anti-imperialist, Latin America solidarity conference in Cuba. After attending that event, I have since been invited to join a peace building collaboration effort in Latin America. I have also been able to revitalize my home organization, the small "Just Peace Committee" and contribute nationally to the peace movement in Canada. I have started up a newsletter and built a website for the league's peace commission (https://peace450.wixsite.com/website). Through collaboration, we have coordinated three actions: to remember the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, to take to the streets on UN International Peace Day and to oppose the most recent NATO Summit.

HEALTH

On course, steady as she goes. I generally keep up my regular, moderate exercise. I do an all-round set of movements to manage the effects of aging. They include quad squats or presses to keep the knee joints strong, shoulder and back presses to keep the core, back and shoulder joints strong, actions to sharpen my balance, stretches for general flexibility, some abdominal movements for core strength and a little low-impact movements for cardio and weight control such as rowing machine or glider. I go to the gym once or twice a week or do some exercises at home. 

Though I have not had a specific weight loss plan, I lost about 10 pounds last spring and a couple in recent weeks. The loss occurred during my busiest phases, so I guess being busy, especially since I have relied on catching buses.

I eat well. I have honed my diet down to a food list that seems to work well for me. The items on this list address aspects of nutrition suitable for my age. They are mostly organically grown. I take vitamin and mineral supplements daily. I eat kale with a variety of other vegetables to make it interesting most days. For minerals, It is high in vitamin Bs. I eat whole grain bread and cereal for protein and B vitamins all the time. For minerals, especially electrolytes, I eat a little a couple of teaspons of avocado, 6 oz. of coconut water, a stick or two of celery, and one small or 1/2 large banana nearly every day. I eat pears for magnesium when they are available at a reasonable price. I eat one egg nearly every day for Vitamin E, sulphur and protein.  My diet is almost dairy free except for a little cheese; I use unsweetened nut milk. Still, my diet is high in protein; I rely more on fish and vegetables than red meat and poultry. I occasionally get a little beef or other red meat, tryng to find it from locally and small farm grown, organically grain or grass fed sources. Same for chicken, though I have chicken very occasionally. Instead, I look for wild seafood or some legumes.

As a consequence of this high quality diet, I do not yearn to go to restaurants much. I experience an aversion to fast food and mass produced, processed food.

Overall, the budding arthritis, which was detected two years ago, has been kept at bay. I hope to slow down or, better, stop its development.

I may get a flu occasionally, but symptoms are relatively minimal. I have no other health complaints.

SOCIAL LIFE

I just accept I am a loner. I am generally content. I have not tried reaching out to go dating again. I try to keep up friendships and the bond with my brothers and their families. I have made more friends through work and activism.

NEW EXPERIENCES

I continue to enjoy new things. It is important to learn and do new things for the sake of keeping life interesting as well as keeping the brain sharp. It is also good for personal development. One should not let one's life stagnate.

-I read at least 20 books.
-I completed a non-fiction manuscript about the nuclear industry.
-I used a new web-building program to build a website for the second time in my life.
-I got through two probational periods as an English speaking test examiner.
-I did my tax return online for the first time.
-I explored two cities I had never explored before.
-I attained a leadership role in the peace movement.
-I have been tutoring English literature, which is a joy.
-I learned some more physical exercises.
-I learned a couple more songs recently.
-I watched some TV series by means of DVDs, series I had seen little of before.
-I got back to blogging.
-I participated in a vacation housing swap for the first time ever.
-I saw a live performance of "The Taming of the Shrew".
-I got several new students.
-I attended an international solidarity conference in Cuba.



Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.


A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.


Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.


Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 


Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 


I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.


Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 


On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.


I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 




Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!


I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.


I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.


Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).


 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.


The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.


I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 


Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 


However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.


It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.


My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 


There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.


2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 


I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.


Ed Wise

TEST

15 January 2020

THIS IS A TEST OF THE NEW PLATFORM FORMAT AND BLOG ENTRY SYSTEM.