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Letter to Canada

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

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.
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!


Posted on December 29, 2019 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (2)
A deep recession is forecast in 2020. Despite official claims of low unemployment and increased retail activity in the US in 2019, economic growth in the US and the world is predicted at a rate of 1.7 to 2% in 2020. That is because of hyper-inflation and high debt. Products are artificially over-priced and consumers (corporate, government and individual) are dedicated to spending beyond their means.

House prices and rents are at an all-time high in major cities around the planet while wages decline, mass layoffs multiply and bankruptcies increase. 

The rich economies, reliant on immigration for population growth and therefore a steady labour force, are experiencing deskilling as more educated, experienced and skilled professionals and workers leave the workforce because of retirement, closures and layoffs and immigrants must take up the lowest skilled jobs in food services, transportation, warehouse and factory labour, cleaning services and hospitality, call centres and so on. The latter are often part-time jobs among which part-time workers may try to hold two or three. How much official employment statistics account for irregular work is a question.

Even professionals and skilled trades people must count more on opportunities for self-employment and contract work.

One outcome of all the above is that individuals rely on credit to acquire necessities, sometimes borrowing money to make payments on previous loans.

The more I examine the present economy and its troubles, the more I see that debt is a permanent feature of capitalist economies and capitalist economies are in perpetual crisis. Activity goes in boom and bust cycles, with a recession about every 10 years. It is a downhill spiral. The standard of living has been diminishing in the West since the years of stagflation in the 1970s, when the strategy of seeking cheaper labour and materials abroad while deregulating work, privatizing ownership and liberalizing trade began to compensate from the decline in expected profits. Gambling through investment and borrowing to build or exist is part of the game upon which the economy depends; more and more people lose while fewer and fewer win and come out on top of societies. 

The average, global debt-to-GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ratio was 61% from the 1960s to the last decade, when it climbed to 74% in 2019. That is, debt takes up 3/4 of a country's income. Consider a nation-state's expenses including the interest on debt and you can easily see that countries normally live beyond their means.

Same at the individual level. Just average out the national debt per capita, and see the burden on the individual: in the US, it is $70,000 per known adult resident, given the national debt of over $23 trillion. Add to it personal debt: in the US, cumulative credit card, mortgage and student loan debt amounts to $20 trillion. You can therefore almost double the per capital national debtload to arrive at the total debt load per taxpayer of between $130,000 and $140,000. 

Put incomes into that context. The average per capita US income is $33,000. Now you see the extent of the economic failure. No wonder 40 million people are living under the official poverty line, with many living in tents or cars. Noting the population of the US is some 330000, that's over eight per cent. These persons include legions of former skilled trades persons and professional employees who found life too expensive once retired, injured, sick, divorced or caring for family members. Welfare is inadequate and medicare still does not reach millions of people.

It is interesting to look at cases of the fallen middle class. I have seen numerous testimonies of previously affluent members of US who had to downsize and live on marginal incomes. For many of these types, they simply lived beyond their already high incomes. Apparently, they identified with the upper crust of society and aspired to live like them. Engrossed in a fantasy, they put their kids in schools they could not afford, bought cars and houses they could not afford, took trips they could not afford and bought personal luxury items they could not afford. They kept buying on credit until they drowned in credit card and mortgage debt, much of their property being repossessed.

The more I investigate, the more it seems that the whole economy is based on a fantasy: a picture of wealth that has no basis in material reality. A pipe dream.


Posted on December 26, 2019 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (4)
I am continuing my exercise system into 2020. I began working on building general strength in a low-impact way and with emphasis on strengthening my knee joints. I took this step in response to a diagnosis of early stage arthritis, which explained the swelling and pain in my left knee joint.

Helped by a physical trainer for the first few weeks, I learned more about my fitness situation and needs. First, I learned about core strength, which is the capacity of the abdominal area, chiefly the diaphragm but also the sides to the hip tops; core strength affects all body movement and balance and coordination. Back and other muscle strains can occur if the back and other muscle areas are compensating for the weakness in the middle of the body. Lack of mid-body strength can also be a factor in explaining falls and coordination weakness. We did exercises to build core strength and lead into work on balance and coordination of the legs and feet.

Then we shifted the focus onto shoulder, quad, back and upper body strength-building. I kept up abdominal work, especially with various types of crunches, too. The most important thing regarding the condition of my knees is the conditioning of the upper front muscles of the thigh known as the "quads". Over the weeks, my physical state improved a lot. I could add weights and extend the sets of squats and presses. We also worked on the upper arms as well as the lower legs and ankles  

I was using the ropes for awhile. Holding the ends of a heavy rope anchored to equipment, one whips the ropes up and down with each arm for 30 seconds to 2 or 3 minutes. I usually tried at different speeds for a minute in each set. In the same set, I would swing the ropes sideways a few times, then launch into whipping the rope up and down with both arms at the same time for about a minute.

I have been continuing to build on this routine since last summer, without a personal trainer. I have been learned new movements and extended the sets and the weights. 

Sometimes I just exercise at home. I can do push-ups, sit-ups (aka crunches) and squats or lunges there. I have a pair of 7lb. dumbbells. I can stretch and do leg raises, as well. I still go to the local fitness centre. Most weeks, I go to there once or twice a week, sometimes thrice. At the gym, there is a selection of weights as well as machines. I choose two or three of them when I plan the workout of the day. The workouts concentrate more on the legs at times, and more on upper body or core at others. I use the cable-pulls for inside leg and upper arm and shoulder exercises. I've taken to using the butterfly press, which builds pectoral muscles, and the seated, upward shoulders press on and off. Recently, I have been using the quads press machine which is done from a prone position, legs raised.  I can handle 22kg or 60 lbs doing tanding squats or 90 lbs with the machine quad presses. As for the upward should presses, I do up to 60 lbs. I generally do all the exercises in three sets of 10 to 25, depending on the movement and my energy on a given day. 

At home, I'll do 3 sets of 20 push-ups, from the knees and hands raised on a surface. I'll do backward lunges while doing bicep curls for 3 or so minutes in a stint. Else, I may do 20 squats while holding 14 lbs on my shoulders, and repeat this set twice. On my back, I'll do three sets of crunches, either with knees bent while raising the shoulders each time or flat out and grabbing a cushion with my ankles then raising the legs to pass the cushion to my raised arms and lying down (20 arm and leg raises in 3 sessions). 

At the gym today, I chose to start with heavier leg work, and some upper body work. I usually do a warm-up to get the blood moving and muscles ready by using the standing cycling machine or the rowing machine or both for 20 minutes. Today, however, I skipped the warm-up. I stretched for five minutes and did three sets of 20 quad presses on the machine. Between each set, I did a set of 15 upward shoulder presses. Then I worked on the should tops, raising an arm weighted with five kg on one side 10 times while extending the other arm horizontal to the floor, then performing the weighted arm raises on the other side 10 times. That set was repeated twice. Finally, I moved to the butterfly machine, pressing 30 kg forward with both arms 10 times, and repeating this set twice more. Job done. I headed home.

The Decade

Posted on December 23, 2019 at 12:27 AM Comments comments (553)
My personal experience of the past 10 years.

10 years ago, I was taking a 3-month break from living in Korea. I stayed in Victoria, BC, making visits to Vancouver and one to Calgary from there. It was a very snowy winter in BC. 

I had just been hired to start working as an Assistant Professor in the English foreign language section of the English department, which was housed in  European Languages division at a private, foreign languages university in South Korea. This was reason to celebrate. I was being elevated from "hagwon" life of teaching English to kids afternoons and evenings in after-school programs at little institutes. It was a change from the hard and lowly life of a teacher teaching outside the public school system to the privileged and comfortable life of academia. 

My career grew during this period. My teaching skills and knowledge of language and language learning expanded. I went to several conferences in Asia and one in Europe. I presented lectures and published articles. I had roles in our educators' association. The subjects and students varied, so that work stayed interesting. 

Outside work, I continued to enjoy new experiences and personal growth. For example, I toured South Korea. I participated in local hiking clubs. I went to cultural events. I travelled around the region. I broadened my horizons by visiting more of the US and made my first trip to Central America. I also made my first trip to Italy.

Activism became more and more a part of my life. Initiating a teachers' support network, I added contacts and met others in the labour movement. I helped to get Koreans involved in the International League of Peoples' Struggles (ILPS). We had regular meetings and discussions in Seoul. I worked on the international coordinating committee of the ILPS and went to some of its conferences. 

It was in this period that my writing took off. I began some short stories reflecting on my teaching experience and wrote my first novel, which used the teaching abroad experience to craft a romantic story. In addition, I wrote poems on and off. A year or two after starting work at the university, moreover, I began to do professional editing of translated texts. 

I finished my middle age phase and moved into my senior phase as I left South Korea to resume a life in Canada. Life back in Canada seemed easier by then. After a year of resettlement, I had  acquired regular work in education and begun some self-employment. Fortunately, I found good housing that makes me happy, quite a contrast from the residence I was inhabiting before I went to Korea! I was prepared to face retirement and life as an elder. My professional writing was expanding, too. I caught up with friends, family and associates, enjoying a return to some activities while trying some new ones. 

I have gradually learned to improve my health management. I am managing the business of aging both physically and mentally. I adopted my own approach to positive thinking. I learned exercise routines more suitable to my age and condition, especially methods to slow down the development arthritis. My diet has been honed to address aging, weight and my particular metabolism and activity level.

I created this website exactly 10 years ago. I took to blogging by the end of 2013. I have more blog followers who take the trouble and time to offer comments quite frequently. Before the blog, the views of my site had stagnated at around 1500; afterward, they increased sharply. It has received 100s of 1000s of views. Whereas I used to get hardly any comments, comments skyrocketed last year and kept coming through this year even though I was prevented from posting blogs during most of this year. My readers' comments amount to over 1500 as of this month. I don't know why

I am very pleased to find one or two new comments nearly every morning. Aside from the odd spam and sales pitch, your comments are positive and encouraging. You compliment me on my writing as well as the content. I do try to share things that are useful and provide commentary that is helpful.

Latin America solidarity

Posted on December 18, 2019 at 9:48 PM Comments comments (19)
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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Keeping connected

Posted on December 1, 2019 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (4)
I live alone and sometimes it seems that I am losing social contact. However, I can take stock of acquaintances and remarkable conversations I am able to engage in, if I take the time to both engage here and there in the first place, and, in the second, make note of them. We must stop and count our blessings, so to speak. I can cite a few examples of unexpected yet very pleasant exchanges I've enjoyed recently. Reflecting back, they were little gems of social life, 

Today, for example, I had conversations in the course of returning a bag of can to the recycling depot and going back home via the neighbourhood park. Being a patron of the depot over 2.5 years, I am familiar with the workers there. I was greeted warmly by a lady who listened as I explained why had so many soda and beer cans this time, which I wouldn't normally possess to turn in. I told her I had collected a lot after wind storm had blown them off porches. On the way home, I encountered a young neighbour and his dog. Though I don't see that boy much, the dog remembered me. I used to play in our apartment building lot soon after the family first got him. It is a delightful memory: the puppy playing hide and seek behind the vehicles parked in the lot. He greets me whenever a family member is taking him for a walk. Since we were in the park and the dog had the freedom to play there, he made a beeline for me as soon as he saw me and began barking and running in circles around me, evidently taunting me to chase him. I did for a while. I explained to the boy that the dog, a charming Corgi named Ibu, likely remembered our times playing hide-and-seek. He would not even fetch the ball for the boy, only for me! So marvelous that the memory of our play is so strong.

Here is an account of another chance incident. I am advertising a few extraneous items to sell so as to clear out unused things in my place. I had an immediate response to my ad for an old sewing machine. Someone came to pick up the machine on Friday morning. It turned out to be a retired mechanic who enjoys collecting and repairing old machines. It was good to know this sewing machine would have a future. It belonged to my grandmother. She, my mom and I had sewing in common, one of the few commonalities among us. There are many memories attached to her old machine, which is why I had kept it even though I had not machine-sewed for years.

I told this story to an online games partner. We occasionally chat during games.

I am friendly with some of my fellow occupants of this small apartment building. I had not chatted with my best two friends among them for several weeks until I finally caught up with Betty, a retiree who lives above my suite. After that brief and typical exchange, I visited her to offer some surplus fruit and vegetables. She in turn invited me to lunch last week since she had a two-for-one coupon. That was the first time we had gone anywhere together, though she has invited me to join her lawn bowling group.

These are just a few of the examples of unexpected yet meaningful conversations I wind up having in the course of my daily life. If I think I am getting too isolated, I can think back to them and find new occasions. The mistake would be to become withdrawn and uncommunicative in my single life.


Posted on November 26, 2019 at 12:11 PM Comments comments (3)
Statement of the ILPS Commission 4, November 25, 2019
Build the anti-imperialist movement! Struggle for just peace everywhere!
ILPS Commission 4 called for activities to join in the protests against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during the time of the NATO Summit held in London, UK NATO 70 anniversary events will take place from December 1 to 3 this year.

What is worth celebrating? NATO is a military and political alliance established decades ago. It has been building and running more and more military bases in Europe, keeping military surveillance of the Middle East, practicing war games, mobilizing forces around states it sees as deviants and threats, developing misinformation campaigns to justify aggressions or foster counter-revolutions, carrying out invasions such as the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and making strikes such as the bombing of Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria.

NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization and is an alliance of 29 states committed to upholding its common goals. Created after WW2 and building on the Western alliance, it was creating as the Cold War and was a factor for causing the Cold War. Whereas the Soviet Union had been an ally during WW2, it was an enemy to NATO. The founding members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK and The United States. They all agreed to provide collective security from attack by the USSR and stop communism from spreading. Although the USSR is no more, NATO’s modus operandi is still to deter or stop states and movements deviating from the monopoly-capitalism model. It defends the present-day set of policies known as neo-liberalism. Its work is thus to develop counter-revolutionary strategy and launch offensives, which imperialist military and political leaders typically characterize as defense of freedom and democracy.

The US, though, has been increasingly going rogue. Its terrible intervention in Iraq began without the cooperation of NATO partners, for example. With the Trump presidential office increasingly backing out of international agreements, and questioning the role and purpose of NATO, there is some debate as to whether to dismantle NATO. Many European states, however, want to extend NATO’s existence. This is one of many signs of sharpening inter-imperialist rivalries around the world.

It is also a sign of the financial, political and social crisis deepening in the US. Complaining that NATO members should pay more for participating in NATO. It is also in conflict with its allies in other regions of the world, such as Asia, about payments for cooperative activities such as military exercises, and base sharing and construction. Some independent economists cite US government liabilities at $120 trillion and consumer debt at $8 trillion, while many of its people cannot pay for housing and lack access to basic services. The US budget for 2019 is nearly $1 trillion. It cannot afford to continue on the same path. It is therefore demanding that other states raise their military budgets.

Two weeks ago, the Associated Press reported on the meeting between US President Trump and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg emerged from this meeting, declaring: “Before allies were cutting defense budgets. Now, they are adding billions to their budgets and by the end of next year, NATO allies in Europe and Canada will have added $100 billion or actually more than $100 billion to their defense spending" since 2016.

Far from showing any willingness to relinquish its special position as ruler of the world, the US and the powers and financial operations that it represents and defends remain entrenched despite the crisis. President Trump and US followers are feeding the rise of fascist thought and organization.
Of course, the expanding arms trade wants to keep the business of war and terror rolling. Big corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE and Raython are making billions every year from death and destruction.

The peoples of the world again face world war, destruction by nuclear weapons and mega-bombs, more terror and militarization. It is extremely important and absolutely necessary that the people who want true democracy, social justice and lasting peace get organized and rise up for life and just peace.

The ILPS urges working people to join in protests against the upcoming summit. More than that, we urge them to raise the demand for their respective countries to withdraw from NATO and to get their governments to call for the dismantling of NATO. Take action against militarization, wars of aggression and counter-revolution, and weapons of mass destruction. Demand that your governments reduce military spending and take measures to reduce the arms trade.
US, Hands off Venezuela, Syria, Cuba, Iran, North Korea!                              Support the just causes of the peoples! 
Resume the peace talks regarding the Philippines, Palestine, and Colombia, now!            Israel, out of Palestine!
Universal nuclear non-proliferation now!             No to NATO!                      Not a single person used for war again!

ILPS Commission 4 opposes wars of aggression and aggression, and weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons.
[email protected]                      Website:   https://peace450.wixsite.com
Actions:   No to NATO Summit! Dec. 1-3       Tax Day, April 15  / Earth Day April 22
International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS)                   http://Ilps.info

Recession 2020

Posted on November 25, 2019 at 12:14 PM Comments comments (5)
This entry regards news posted on Youtube by Epic Economist yesterday, November 24. This seems to be the channel of a very credible person with extensive knowledge who regularly monitors the financial system and global economy. Based on the factual detail he always presents, this economist is predicting a collapse of the global economy and its major institution.

Epic Economist forecasts a major recession in 2020. He has been reporting frequently on the US economy. After examining the weaknesses in the lending system and slowdown of industrial activity, he believes that many banks in the US will fold and that millions more people will lose their homes soon. Irresponsible lending practices are still happening, he says, and the crisis of 2008 has never recovered. Though many mortgages were foreclosed back then, millions of people are occupying (squatting) in mortgaged homes for which they have not been making payments in the past five years. Since these lenders are not receiving payments and interest rates are already very low, they are bound to close up shop any time. Meanwhile, manufacturing continues to shrink and a cascade of mass layoffs started in October 2019. Consumer debt is around $8 TRILLION in the US. Government liabilities (commitments for which there are no funds set aside) stand at a whopping $120 TRILLION--including military (close to a trillion in 2019) and other department budgets such as health care coverage and pensions. Most people have been over-spending and are in debt up to their ears. Epic Economist reports on surveys that tell us that US residents could not find $400 in cash in an emergency, as they are living paycheque to paycheque and mired in debt.

Epic Economist points out that the economic crisis is not confined to this or that country; it is a global development. The European economy is stuck in a similar swamp. 

The video posted yesterday announced that the third Chinese bank in three months just collapsed. It predicts that some 50 other banks in China are on the brink of shutting down. The reasons are similar to those explaining the situations in Europe and the USA: over-production, inflation, over-borrowing/over-lending, and a slowdown in manufacturing. The party could not last forever.

There are differences between China and other rich countries. For one thing, Epic says, many big banks are state-owned. This has maintained some stability, but the problem of over-lending is still a huge problem. Even if the state -owned banks remain afloat, there private sector competitors will lose out to them and be forced to fold. Many business are about to face bankruptcy, claims Epic. 

Another thing to note is that the stock market is new and few people in China play it. However, there are many investors in businesses and among them are major foreign investors. Their standing in their home countries will affect the businesses and projects in which they have invested. The crash of Chinese enterprises will affect them, in turn. 

Furthermore, most people living in China do not engage in over-spending, according to Epic. Rather, they save half their earnings. However, businesses, large and small, tend to over-borrow and then over-spend. 

Finally, there is the widespread corruption in state and private enterprises. The upper crust involved in them, it seems, cannot contain their greed. The rob their businesses for personal benefit.

Get ready for a fall next year. Stop spending so much. Scale down. Re-use items. Cancel plans for travel, luxury purchases and new homes. Sell your home now, especially if you live in the US. Make some other living arrangements and get out if you are a long-time delinquent mortgage holder. Sell all unnecessary items. Save money while you can. Reduce your dependency on the stock market. Buy reliable material items that are financially more resilient and have longer term value, such as gold. Try cooperative ventures such as vehicle and equipment-sharing, as well as sound housing arrangements. 


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


15 January 2020